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I don’t think you have to be a conspiracy theorist to find this weird.

Facebook has been aggressively monetizing user data for years. They are just one player in an entire industry built around this business model.

The existence of this industry is most obvious to technically literate, who you can generally identify by their use of strong ad blockers and password managers. But it’s been reported on before [0]. Online privacy is not a new concern... just look at the “Facebook is listening to me” meme.

So what I want to know is: why now? Why Cambridge Analytica? Why Facebook?

Here’s my best take so far.

1) Facebook’s user base is so big that it’s a relevant political constituency, and thus democratic governments have a reason to care.

2) Facebook creates an expectation of privacy and illusion of control that doesn’t exist with public-first platforms like Twitter

3) Cambridge Analytica is a scummy company in many respects, not just their work with Facebook data. They got lots of Facebook data from a third party who probably wasn’t authorized to sell it to them. This makes them a good candidate for regulators to make an example of.

4) Cambridge Analytica is closely tied to the Trump and Brexit campaigns, both of which are regarded as “dangerous perversions of democracy using lies to exploit vulnerable people” by exactly the kinds of political and media organizations that are driving this story.

Overall, I think this is a “Pigs get fat, Hogs get slaughtered” situation. The industry’s toxic practices are finally causing enough damage that institutions responsible for protecting the public (government, real media) are responding.

Bravo, I say.

[0] WaPo has an article explaining this on the front page today https://www.washingtonpost.com/business/economy/facebooks-ru...

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