The story of Facebook and/or Cambridge Analytica just keeps getting weirder and weirder. Yesterday, you’ll recall, a British TV station, Channel 4, revealed that it had footage of Cambridge Analytica chief, Alexander Nix, bragging about using prostitutes, money, bribes, and blackmail to gain influence for its clients around the world. (There’s said to be more news coming from the Channel 4 today—this time regarding the company’s activities in the USA. Stay tuned and we’ll report what we hear.)
Ah, but that’s just the beginning. First, CNBC (among others) is reporting that Facebook’s Security Officer Alex Stamos is leaving FB, apparently after quarrelling with the company’s top brass about Facebook’s response to Russian and other threats. He seems to have wanted a more energetic policy. FB’s leadership, not so much. (https://www.cnbc.com/2018/03/19/facebook-security-chief-set-to-leave-company-after-clashes-over-disinformation-new-york-times-citing-sources.html)
At about the same time, The Guardian newspaper was reporting that “Sandy Parakilas, the platform operations manager at Facebook responsible for policing data breaches by third-party software developers between 2011 and 2012, told the Guardian he warned senior executives at the company that its lax approach to data protection risked a major breach.” The aforesaid senior executives, however, were not particularly interested, and eventually Parakilas left the company. He noted that FB’s management seemed to prefer not to know what was going on with user data, maybe so that if they were brought before the courts they could limit the company’s (and their) liability. (https://www.theguardian.com/news/2018/mar/20/facebook-data-cambridge-analytica-sandy-parakilas?CMP=Share_iOSApp_Other)
Then, Techdirt revealed that several journalists had been threatened with lawsuits by both Facebook and Cambridge Analytica (acting in concert?) if they revealed anything about the data breaches and illicit use of Facebook user data. Note to big corporations: we know you think that a lawsuit will handle everything, but never threaten a journalist. It’s like hitting a wasp nest. Doesn’t do you any good and makes them very, very angry. (https://www.techdirt.com/articles/20180318/00111439443/both-facebook-cambridge-analytica-threatened-to-sue-journalists-over-stories-cas-use-facebook-data.shtml)
And then, finally for today (at least as of press time) the BBC is reporting that Mark Zuckerberg has been summoned to appear before Parliament to explain a few things. (http://www.bbc.com/news/uk-43474760)
So, all in all, not a good day for the folks at Facebook or Cambridge Analytica. Though, maybe, for the rest of us, it is better. At least we’re getting a little clearer view of what’s going on in the shadows of Social Media.