Facebook's Trouble Is Only Deepening

Stock takes a hit amid allegations it failed to protect data of 50M users
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted Mar 20, 2018 7:21 AM CDT
Facebook's Trouble Is Only Deepening
Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg.   (AP Photo/Jeff Roberson, File)

Facebook's latest trouble is only getting worse. The company's stock slid nearly 7% on Monday, the biggest decline in four years, as it deals with allegations that it allowed people's personal data to be manipulated during the 2016 campaign, reports the Wall Street Journal. The new scandal specifically involves the data-mining company Cambridge Analytica, which worked for the Trump campaign and is accused of improperly obtaining the data of 50 million Facebook users without much trouble. The story continues to widen:

  • Different: The details of this mess are complex, "but the most important thing to understand is that Facebook collects an enormous amount of data about its users, and it lost control of that data," writes Rhett Jones at Gizmodo. Yes, Facebook has weathered similar controversies, but this feels different, he adds. For one thing, lawmakers in the US and Europe are demanding accountability, raising the prospect of investigations, hearings, and penalties.

  • Stephen Colbert: The late-night host weighed in on the scandal Monday, declaring that "free will is an illusion." Cambridge Analytica reportedly created psychological profiles so it could bombard users with targeted ads and stories. Colbert takes Facebook to task for allegedly being informed of these tactics and failing to stop them. See the video.
  • Where's Zuckerberg? Silent so far amid the scandal is Mark Zuckerberg, notes Julie Carrie Wong at the Guardian. He might not want to wait too much longer: The hashtag #WheresZuck was trending, as was #DeleteFacebook.
  • Similar theme: The editorial page of the New York Times also takes Facebook to task for its response and thinks lawmakers should look into whether the company violated its own 2011 consent decree with the FTC about protecting users' data. "It is clear that lawmakers cannot rely on the company to police itself."
  • Facebook turmoil: The company's chief information security officer, Alex Stamos, is leaving after meeting resistance in his push for the company to be more transparent in how it was used to spread disinformation, reports the New York Times.
  • What to know: The BBC has a question-and-answer primer on the entire scandal, including background on Cambridge Analytica and the quiz it used to get information from Facebook users. Among the explanations is how to protect your privacy on the site.
  • Dirty tricks: Britain's Channel 4 has undercover footage of Cambridge Analytica execs boasting of using underhanded tactics to sway elections around the world, including the use of prostitutes and bribery. The company says these were all "hypothetical scenarios." The Guardian has details.
(More Facebook stories.)

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