Facebook just cannot seem to get a break – the social media giant’s woes keep piling up on all fronts, not least as a consequences of its own policies and decisions – but also because of matters out of its real-time control, such as last week’s mass shooting in New Zealand, which happened to be streamed live on the platform.
Seemingly adding insult to injury on the former front, Britain’s Guardian newspaper writes this week on its website – expanding on a prior original reporting regarding “improper data-gathering practices” in the Cambridge Analytica case – that Facebook employees may have known that the political consultancy in question had obtained “data on millions from an academic” well before the newspaper first reported about it.
The data of as many as 87 million people had been extracted from Facebook by GSR – a company by former Cambridge University academic Aleksandr Kogan – to then be sent to Cambridge Analytica’s SCL. And while the initial practice of data gathering did not breach Facebook’s rules – it has been deemed as being “highly controversial,” the report said.
But sending data from GSR to SCl happened against the social media giant’s rules – a point Facebook has been arguing for a long time.
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According to company emails now made public, Facebook not only knew about Cambridge Analytica’s data harvesting months ahead of the media reports first revealing it – but these emails by staffers now contradict Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg’s sworn testimony.
But Facebook spokesperson has “clarified after publication that there may have been two separate instances of data misuse by Cambridge Analytica,” the Guardian writes.
“The data-scraping referenced in the filing was not the same data harvesting that has become synonymous with Cambridge Analytica’s name over the past year,” Facebook’s official representative is quoted as saying.
The news stems from the Washington DC attorney general’s filing, that was to confront the District of Columbia in court on Friday with a judge deciding on whether to dismiss the lawsuit, or keep the email exchange sealed.
And while Facebook issued a statement denying in the strongest terms that “it mislead anyone absolutely the timeline” – the Guardian is reporting that this timeline has been “complicated” for a long time – and involving now defunct political consultancy Cambridge Analytica and its alleged data misuse.