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Facebook brings political ads under more scrutiny

07 Avril 2018

Facebook disclosed in September that Russians under fake names had used the social network to try to influence USA voters in the months before and after the 2016 election, writing about inflammatory subjects, setting up events and buying ads.

In a related development, the Facebook security team has deleted Mark Zuckerberg's messages on Facebook Messenger's recipient side of all non-company officials and ex-employees, reported TechCrunch. While initially it was assumed that the London-based consultancy gained access to "only" 50 million accounts, for political targeting and psychological profiling, including during the 2016 United States election campaign, on Wednesday Facebook revealed that Cambridge Analytica harvested data from 87 million people, including 71 million Americans. So, now, among other things, Facebook's facing criticism for appearing to give special privileges to its top ranks. Information of up to 87 million people might have been shared improperly with the data mining firm, the social media giant said.

That Facebook app, called This is Your Digital Life, was a personality quiz created in 2014 by an academic researcher named Aleksander Kogan, who paid about 270,000 people to take it.

AggregateIQ has also been linked to Cambridge Analytica, the political consultancy firm accused of improperly accessing private Facebook data to help political campaigns, including Donald Trump's 2016 USA presidential bid and the Brexit campaign.

Beginning this spring - a few months before the 2018 congressional midterm elections - those ads about candidates and issues will feature an icon marking them as political.

"We have this egalitarian set of values that underpins the Elections Act and we have a set of tools, like spending limits and disclosure rules, so let's apply those to what's happening online", Pal said. That's not a power available to the rest of us, who can't delete messages we regret sending from other people's archives. It has also deepened concerns about the social media network's ability to avoid being exploited to spread propaganda and sway elections.

"To this day, we still don't know what data Cambridge Analytica have", Sandberg said.

"With this in mind, previous year Facebook began discussions with leading medical institutions, including the American College of Cardiology and the Stanford University School of Medicine, to explore whether scientific research using anonymized Facebook data could help the medical community advance our understanding in this area". It has disabled a feature that enabled users to search or recover an account on its network by simply using a phone number or an email address.

The company means you keep sharing info when necessary and will inform you whenever it does so.

"AggregateIQ has never managed, nor did we ever have access to any Facebook data or database allegedly obtained improperly by Cambridge Analytica", says the website.

Rob Goldman, vice president of Ads and Alex Himel, Local and Pages vice president wrote:"We believe that when you visit a Page or see an ad on Facebook it should be clear who it's coming from".

In the weeks since the news broke, Zuckerberg and COO Sheryl Sandberg have pledged the company will do a better job to protect users' data.

Facebook brings political ads under more scrutiny