Facebook Faces More Trouble. Zuckerberg Sold Shares Before Exposed Data Breach, FTC Investigation, Facebook Harvesting Android User’s Calls and Text Messages.
Facebook was rocked and lost billions of dollars by the data breach of 51.8 million Facebook user’s data that was harvested by Cambridge Analytica without proper user authorization.
ARS Technica reported, Facebook surreptitiously scraped Facebook user calls and text messages data from Android phones and has done so for many years. The scandal-burdened company has responded that it only collects that information from users who have given permission. Well, even that sounds suspicious because who would want their phone calls and text messages copied by Facebook or any other social media company.
Roger McNamee, an early Facebook investor and mentor to Mark Zuckerburg is Co-founder of Elevation Partners. He agreed that the basic nature of Facebook is that it spies on you. Roger said, “Their business model, which is based on advertising, requires them to know as much as they can about every single user. What you don’t know and what you can’t tell as a user is that they are using every tool available. ARS Technica pointed out Android phones have a feature that allows a product like Facebook to download all of your contacts, all of your text messages and phone calls. Then Facebook will someday monetize all that data and they were just going to grab it while it’s there.
And lot of people discovered to their chagrin, it’s not just Cambridge Analytica. From 2010 to 2014, they were at least hundreds of thousands of applications that did the same thing. They harvested all the user data without the permission of the users. Does data give Facebook more power over you than any government has had over it’s citizens? That’s the kind of power that requires great judgement and from things that we have seen in recent months, is that Facebook judgement around it’s power is really poor and didn’t value it’s users. McNamee said, “as somebody who mentored them, who was involved as an investor, who was at one time extremely proud of it, my tenure there between 2006 and 2009 was before the company developed a business model. As I came to know what was going on and felt it was important to reach out to Mark Zuckerburg and make him aware of it. Candidly, I’m glad these revelations are coming out and we need them to change their strategy.”
Apple has a different architecture and the differences are in Apple’s business model because the customers pay directly to Apple when they buy the phone. Apple treats those as their customers. With Android, it’s the phone company that’s the customer and so just as in Facebook, the user of the phone is the product. That’s the problem with the model and they aren’t treating us as humans, their treating us like the fuel to generate profits.
All of Silicon Valley needs to reevaluate why its in business. They can be incredibly profitable. They can still be billionaires without stripping the privacy from every user and selling to the highest bidder. But maybe that’s the problem of only thinking of becoming billionaires. How long will it take for the government to respond to the bad effects of Facebook and other social media companies that are practicing illegal data harvesting? I think the best response will be from the users and the employees of these companies as they come to understand it. They are going to appreciate that it’s something they shouldn’t want to be a part of. I think you’re going to see some kind of push back and rebellion. The advertising business model in these companies have terrible incentives and literally billions of people are being hurt by it. Not just in the US but around the world.
On Monday March 26, 2018, Facebook’s stock was down 6 percent and the Federal Trade Commission confirmed that it has officially opened an investigation into Facebook. As Wednesday March 28, 2017, Facebook’s stock was down 17.3 percent. The FTC had reached out to Facebook and planned to send the company a list of questions but the agency didn’t confirm that Facebook was under official investigation until now. Facebook has had issues with the FTC in the past. The investigation will determine whether or not Facebook violated a 2011 consent decree that it signed promising stronger privacy practices.
On the Achilles heel of Cambridge Analytica and the latest news that Facebook was illegally saving/harvesting Facebook users Android phone calls and text messages it appears in broad daylight that several privacy practices have been violated. Let’s see if the FTC will determine the same.
Then Zuckerberg saved tens of millions of dollars by selling Facebook stock ahead of Monday’s March 19, 2018 decline. Insider trading? Did Zuckerberg know Cambridge Analytica’s and Facebook’s illegal data breach was going to cost Facebook billions of dollars and sell stock to profit before Facebook’s downturn?
“Disposing of those Facebook shares FB-4.9% before Tuesday ended up saving about $70 million, according to Securities and Exchange Commission filings and some arithmetic by MarketWatch. At Tuesday’s close, the 5.4 million shares Zuckerberg has sold this year under a predetermined plan would be worth $910 million. Zuckerberg made about $980 million selling those shares, according to calculations using average weighted prices reported to the Securities and Exchange Commission.”
Meanwhile, after the CIA gave $600 million (of taxpayer’s money) to Amazon Jeff Bezos, he buys the Washington Post and creates VADATA, Inc & created an unconstitutional domestic surveillance database without Amazon customers consent. NOT GOOD!
In A Major Breach More Than 50 Million Facebook Users’ Data Was harvested for Cambridge Analytica
Unbeknownst to more than 50 million Facebook users, CAMBRIDGE ANALYTICA, a data analysis firm that worked on President Trump’s 2016 campaign with its related company, Strategic Communications Laboratories (SCL), harvested their data. Both the New York Times and The Guardian revealed a major data breach of more than 50 million Facebook users and their profiles harvested for Cambridge Analytica. The social media giant’s failure was exposing the apparent misuse of the data with no notice to the users and their authorization and not policing the data sharing which has now left both companies pointing their fingers at each other with plenty still to answer for.
Cambridge Analytica is a company owned by the hedge fund billionaire Robert Mercer. The company used Facebook user’s information in early 2014 to build a system that could profile individual US voters in order to target them with personalized political advertisements. The Mirror claims it was in 2013, a Cambridge psychology academic named Aleksandr Kogan was paid to by Cambridge Analytica to develop an app on Facebook called This Is Your Digital Life.
The Guardian wrote a whistleblower revealed to the Observer how Cambridge Analytica, a company owned by the hedge fund billionaire Robert Mercer, used personal information taken without Facebook users authorization in 2014 and tried to tie it to Steve Bannon. Bannon’s relationship with Cambridge Analytica in 2014 predated President Trump’s campaign. President Trump didn’t announce his candidacy until June 10, 2015 and Steve Bannon didn’t join President Trump’s campaign until August 14, 2016.
Many polling companies and news sites were gathering voting information long before and throughout election 2016 predicting Hillary Clinton would probably win by a landslide; which tells you a whole lot about polls and data sharing! Voting machines tally the votes and that is information gathered for every voter who in these times might be a citizen or not; which also tells you about those Democrats who are defending many illegal immigrants and illegal criminal immigrants who are voting as non-citizens; but that’s a topic for another time.
Documents seen by the Observer and confirmed by Facebook show that by late 2015 the company had found out information that had initially been harvested for 270,000 Facebook users; turned out that Cambridge Analytica had harvested an unprecedented scale of more than 50 million users. However, at the time Facebook failed to alert users and took only limited steps to recover and secure the private information of the more than 50 million users. Facebook says it knew about the breach but had received legally binding guarantees from the company that all of the data would be deleted. As of yet, the more than 50 million Facebook users were not notified of this breach!
Facebook has since suspended both Cambridge and SCL while it investigates whether both companies retained Facebook user data that had been provided by third-party researcher Aleksandr Kogan of the company Global Science Research. Also a violation of Facebook’s terms. The suspensions were announced just hours before The New York Times and The Guardian published stories Saturday morning.
Cambridge Analytica’s whistleblower Christopher Wylie, who worked with Cambridge University academia to obtain the data told the Observer, “We spent $1 million harvesting millions of Facebook profiles.”
The New York Times is reporting that copies of the data harvested for Cambridge Analytica could still be found online; its reporting team had viewed some of the raw data.
The data was collected through an app called thisisyourdigitallife, built by academic Aleksandr Kogan, separately from his work at Cambridge University which offered Facebook users personality quizzes. Through Kogan’s company Global Science Research (GSR), in collaboration with Cambridge Analytica, hundreds of thousands of users were paid to take a personality test, downloaded the app voluntarily and agreed to have their data collected for academic purposes. Then they turned over reams of personal data about what they like, where they live, and in some cases, depending on individual privacy settings, who their friends were and there is your answer; how the data was obtained from Facebook.
Facebook’s “platform policy” allowed only collection of friends’ data to improve user experience in the app and barred it being sold or used for advertising. Maybe Facebook shouldn’t allow Facebook users to share their friend’s data without the friend’s permission. This seems to appear as a fault in the Facebook app system.
The discovery of the unprecedented data harvesting and the use to which it was put raises urgent new questions about Facebook’s role in targeting voters in the US presidential election. It comes only weeks after indictments of 13 Russians were announced by DOJ Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein to the public. Not many knew that special counsel Robert Mueller was involved in the indictments of 13 Russians who stated they had used the platform to perpetrate “information warfare” against the US.
My hunch is these initial users gave their permission to collect their data on Facebook but shouldn’t or didn’t even know they were giving permission to their friends information. You can see how quickly this grew from 270,000 users to over 50 million in a very short time frame of 2-3 months. Facebook should not have given users permission to access friends data and the story and arbitration goes on and on…~ Natalie
Asked to confirm whether this database existed, an SCL spokesperson said, “We did a system wide internal audit to verify that all GSR data had been removed before we signed an undertaking to Facebook.”
Paul Grewal, Facebook’s Vice President and General Counsel, wrote in a blog post ,”We are moving aggressively to determine the accuracy of these claims. If true, this is another unacceptable violation of trust and the commitments they made.” Facebook is also suspending Kogan, as well as Christopher Wylie of Eunoia Technologies, the whistleblower who led to stories in The Guardian and The New York Times.
In a statement, a spokesperson for SCL denied the claims. “Cambridge Analytica and SCL Elections do not use or hold Facebook data,” the statement read. (Cambridge is an independent company in the United States that was spun out of SCL.)
Two talking points, the first being more serious regarding big company databases: Amazon with CIA’s $600 million dollar investment (taxpayer’s money without our permission) built a database (said Amazon) gathering personal data only on Amazon customers without our permission but even that is a violation of the law; an unconstitutional domestic surveillance database. Facebook’s leniency where algorithms control users friends privileges isn’t good either. The Facebook internal app lacked a flag algorithm NOT to permit a second or third party database company access Facebook users friend’s data.
Niall Ferguson, a historian, wrote the book the “The Square and the Tower”. The book describes how America’s biggest social media companies are polarizing people, groups, government agencies, companies, entities, countries to the far left versus the far right, globalization versus nationalism allowing cyber stalkers or foreign actors into our public and personal domains (lives) like how the Russians generated content on Facebook but weren’t specifically targeting a Democrat versus a Republican. They spent on ads going 50/50.
Lawmakers in the U.S. and U.K. are demanding that Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg explain reports that 50 million users’ data was secretly used by political research firm Cambridge Analytica, which worked for President Donald Trump’s campaign.
“I think he should explain to the American people how this happened, how many people were hurt, and most importantly how they’re going to fix it,” Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) said on CNN Tuesday.
Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.), who signed a bipartisan letter with Klobuchar seeking a judiciary hearing with Zuckerberg and other media CEOs, expressed particular concern with the social media site’s handling of user data. Reports this week say Cambridge Analytica, hired by Trump’s presidential campaign, improperly collected personal data of millions of Facebook users without their knowledge.
Description “The Square and the Tower” Author Niall Ferguson
The instant New York Times bestseller.
A brilliant recasting of the turning points in world history, including the one we’re living through, as a collision between old power hierarchies and new social networks.
“Captivating and compelling.” —The New York Times
“Niall Ferguson has again written a brilliant book…In 400 pages you will have restocked your mind. Do it.” —The Wall Street Journal
“The Square and the Tower, in addition to being provocative history, may prove to be a bellwether work of the Internet Age.” —Christian Science Monitor
Most history is hierarchical: it’s about emperors, presidents, prime ministers and field marshals. It’s about states, armies and corporations. It’s about orders from on high. Even history “from below” is often about trade unions and workers’ parties. But what if that’s simply because hierarchical institutions create the archives that historians rely on? What if we are missing the informal, less well documented social networks that are the true sources of power and drivers of change?
The 21st century has been hailed as the Age of Networks. However, in The Square and the Tower, Niall Ferguson argues that networks have always been with us, from the structure of the brain to the food chain, from the family tree to freemasonry. Throughout history, hierarchies housed in high towers have claimed to rule, but often real power has resided in the networks in the town square below. For it is networks that tend to innovate. And it is through networks that revolutionary ideas can contagiously spread. Just because conspiracy theorists like to fantasize about such networks doesn’t mean they are not real.
From the cults of ancient Rome to the dynasties of the Renaissance, from the founding fathers to Facebook, The Square and the Tower tells the story of the rise, fall and rise of networks, and shows how network theory–concepts such as clustering, degrees of separation, weak ties, contagions and phase transitions–can transform our understanding of both the past and the present.
Just as The Ascent of Money put Wall Street into historical perspective, so The Square and the Tower does the same for Silicon Valley. And it offers a bold prediction about which hierarchies will withstand this latest wave of network disruption–and which will be toppled.
“Captivating and compelling. Whether describing the surprisingly ineffective 18th century network of the mysterious Illuminati that continue to be the subject of crank conspiracy theorists or the shockingly effective 20th century network of Cambridge University spies working for the Soviets, Ferguson manages both to tell a good story and provide important insight into the specific qualities that power successful networks.” — The New York Times
“Remarkably interesting . . . always surprising and always thought-provoking in the places and entities it chooses to pause and examine, everything from the Mafia to the Soviet Union of Stalin. . . . The Square and the Tower in addition to being provocative history, may prove to be a bellwether work of the Internet Age.” — Christian Science Monitor
“Niall Ferguson has again written a brilliant book. . . . His short chapters are lucid snapshots of a world history of Towers and Squares, filled with gracefully deployed learning. . . . THE SQUARE AND THE TOWER is always readable, intelligent, original. You can swallow a chapter a night before sleep and your dreams will overflow with scenes of Stendhal’s The Red and the Black, Napoleon, Kissinger. In 400 pages you will have restocked your mind. Do it.” — The Wall Street Journal
“Ferguson reminds us the social network didn’t spring fully formed from the mind of Mark Zuckerberg; rather, it’s a persistent force in human affairs offering a novel lens on past and perplexing present.”— San Francisco Chronicle
“A wide-ranging and provocative tour through the history of human connectivity, pre- and post-high tech. Ferguson also ladles out illuminating doses of networking theory and analysis of the threat that growing political and economic complexity poses to established hierarchies and institutions.” — Inc.com
“An engaging, provocative history of networks (and their relationships to hierarchies) from ancient times to the invention of the printing press to the pervasiveness of the personal computer. Breathtaking in its scale and scope, The Square and the Tower applies insights of network theory to (among other subjects) Portugal’s foothold in Macau, the “conquest” of the Incas, the Reformation, the Enlightenment, the American Revolution, the Industrial Revolution, World War I, Stalin’s Terror, World War II, the fall of the Soviet Union, the founding of the European Union and the Great Recession of 2008-09.”— Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
“An enthralling ‘reboot’ of history from a novel perspective, spanning antiquity to the present day. . . . Like the best historians, [Ferguson] always pauses to learn from the past and anticipate the future. If only for this reason, [THE SQUARE AND THE TOWER] is well worth a read.”— Science
“[Ferguson’s] typically bold rethinking of historical currents, painted on the broadest canvas, offers many stimulating insights on the tense interplay between order, oppression, freedom, and anarchy.” — Publishers Weekly, starred review
“Ferguson has written a provocative and intellectually challenging work that should promote consideration and debate among academics and laypersons.” — Booklist
“Renowned economic historian Ferguson draws on insights from network theory to examine disruptions across time. . . . Refreshingly evenhanded. . . . Ferguson offers a novel way of examining data . . . highly intriguing.” — Kirkus
“In his sweeping, stimulating and enlightening The Square and the Tower, noted historian Niall Ferguson draws from a wide range of sources to trace the crucial role that different kinds of human networks have played throughout history… Ferguson’s superb, thought-provoking book brings these events vividly to life and will help readers view history from a unique perspective.” — BookPage
“Niall Ferguson’s The Square and the Tower brilliantly illuminates the great power struggle between networks and hierarchies that is raging around the world today. As a software engineer steeped in the theory and practice of networks, I was deeply impressed by this book’s insights. Silicon Valley needed a history lesson and Ferguson has provided it.” — Eric Schmidt, Executive Chairman of Alphabet, the parent company of Google
About the Author
Niall Ferguson is one of the world’s most renowned historians. He is the author of Paper and Iron, The House of Rothschild, The Pity of War, The Cash Nexus, Empire, Colossus, The War of the World, The Ascent of Money, High Financier, Civilization, The Great Degeneration, Kissinger, 1923-1968: The Idealist, and The Square and the Tower. He is Senior Fellow at the Hoover Institution, Stanford University, and a Visiting Professor at Tsinghua University, Beijing. His many awards include the Benjamin Franklin Prize for Public Service (2010), the Hayek Prize for Lifetime Achievement (2012) and the Ludwig Erhard Prize for Economic Journalism (2013).