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> and apparently has already been abused (some might even say weaponized) in a major election.

You mean major election_s_, right? I do seem to remember the Democrats crowing about how Obama's team had used social media to their advantage and Republicans were hopelessly outmatched in this arena.

http://swampland.time.com/2012/11/20/friended-how-the-obama-...

Fun tidbits:

> But the Obama team had a solution in place: a Facebook application that will transform the way campaigns are conducted in the future. For supporters, the app appeared to be just another way to digitally connect to the campaign. But to the Windy City number crunchers, it was a game changer. “I think this will wind up being the most groundbreaking piece of technology developed for this campaign,” says Teddy Goff, the Obama campaign’s digital director.

> That’s because the more than 1 million Obama backers who signed up for the app gave the campaign permission to look at their Facebook friend lists. In an instant, the campaign had a way to see the hidden young voters. Roughly 85% of those without a listed phone number could be found in the uploaded friend lists.

Whoa, that sounds exactly like the "breach" we're talking about here!

And a former Obama staffer confirms this: https://www.theblaze.com/news/2018/03/20/ex-obama-staffer-cl... (yeah yeah "I don't trust your source", but it's just screenshots straight from the horse's mouth).

Money quotes:

> Facebook was surprised we were able to suck out the whole social graph, but they didn’t stop us once they realized that was what we were doing.

> They came to office in the days following election recruiting & were very candid that they allowed us to do things they wouldn’t have allowed someone else to do because they were on our side.




The major differences:

1. The Democrats didn't harvest the data under false pretenses; the data came from people who signed up for a political app.

2. The Democratic campaign data wasn't illegally transferred from one company to another.

But I agree that the Obama campaign's actions should have been a flag and we should have worried harder about it, even if they weren't as bad as what Cambridge Analytica did.


> 1. The Democrats didn't harvest the data under false pretenses; the data came from people who signed up for a political app.

Were these people aware all their data and friend's data was going to be recursively sucked down? Somehow I doubt the app included a disclaimer to that effect. Doesn't really matter what your app does if the main goal of it is to, well, harvest data.

2. The Democratic campaign data wasn't illegally transferred from one company to another.

That you know of. It's data, it can get around. The staffer did mention that the Democrats still have the data, and they weren't supposed to be sucking down the whole graph in the first place, hence Facebook's initial freakout (but of course, it was OK because "we're on your side.")


Nope, not "that you know of." Cambridge Analytica got their data from a third party, violating their contract with Facebook. The Obama campaign got their data directly. That is an actual difference between the two actions.

It's possible to say "I think the Obama campaign also took undesirable actions" without saying "and they were just as bad." I agree with that position, as I said.


Here's another difference.

Obama campaign was US CITIZENS who are legally allowed to work on election programs.

CA was staffed almost entirely by BRITISH and CANADIAN citizens, and ALL of their Trump 2016 (and Cruz et all) actions are straight FEC violations of foreign actors working US elections.


Thanks and I agree in theory. It remains to be seen whether that statement was true, or just CA pumping up their own importance.


CA also has Russians playing key roles in its lifecycle, with early work done in Russia, and a link to a Russian government oil firm, Lukasoil, considered to be an overseas intelligence/influence agent of Putin's. I'm less concerned by the connection with Allied national citizons.


Looking at the last quotes, is it worse that Facebook did not protect the data from a violator vs giving it away explicit and intentionally?


"That you know of" is referring to the fact that you don't know where the data is _now_ (well, we know the Dems still have it) and what it's going to be used for in the future, much as in the CA case. Unless you believe that the Dems destroyed all the data harvested in 2012 and haven't used it again.


I believe in judging based on the facts in evidence rather than making assumptions about what happened.

CA acquired data from a third party which did not have permission to give CA the data. The Obama campaign did not do that.

Facebook required the third party (Dr. Kogan) to certify that the data had been destroyed. Dr. Kogan certified that the data had been destroyed, but did not do so. The Obama campaign did not do that.

These facts support the conclusion that nobody should have access to this kind of data, including the Obama campaign. They do not support the conclusion that the Obama campaign did the same thing as CA.

I also don't think you've provided evidence that the Obama campaign still has the data. If I've missed that please let me know.

I also noticed that you are conflating the Obama campaign with the Democratic Party. If you have evidence that the Obama campaign shared this data with the Democratic Party, you should also share that.


> I also don't think you've provided evidence that the Obama campaign still has the data. If I've missed that please let me know.

> “Where this gets complicated is, that freaked Facebook out, right? So they shut off the feature. Well, the Republicans never built an app to do that. So the data is out there, you can’t take it back, right? So Democrats have this information,” she said.

This is what Davidsen has said.

Also, as you said, they obtained the data legitimately. Why _wouldn't_ they keep the data around for future use?

> I also noticed that you are conflating the Obama campaign with the Democratic Party. If you have evidence that the Obama campaign shared this data with the Democratic Party, you should also share that.

Common freaking sense. It's a goldmine for future elections, they would be fools not to share it with the DNC.

Considering how much traction this story is getting, and considering that the Obama campaign used the same friend list "breach" to obtain data, they really should comment to the effect that they aren't keeping the data around. Otherwise, common sense says they are. That, coupled with Facebook's rather "it's OK" response to learning that they sucked down tons of data makes me think FB didn't make a big stink about deleting the data. If they did, they need to attest to that.


> Common freaking sense. It's a goldmine for future elections, they would be fools not to share it with the DNC.

Well, no. They'd be people who are violating their Facebook contract if they did.

When you live in the swamp, it's easy to assume everyone is dirty. The Obama campaign certainly used data in a way I personally find uncomfortable, which makes it even easier to leap to conclusions. However, there's no value in this conversation as long as you don't understand the difference between evidence and the things you want to be true.


We rarely get to deal in certainty; life is mainly degrees of probability.

It's very likely that the Obama campaign retained the data: I'd put it around 75%. Others have different assessments.

Lumping all uncertain things into one bundle of low probability is a massive category error.


> Well, no. They'd be people who are violating their Facebook contract if they did.

Again, who’s actually asking any questions whatsoever about their use of harvested social media data? You’re only in breach of your “Facebook contract” if someone cares to look into it in the first place. You still haven’t addressed the staffer’s claim that Facebook was freaked out about the campaign’s harvesting of data but then said they were “OK” with it. You trust FB to make a stink if the Obama campaign misused data? Seems to me like they were perfectly content to look the other way.


You are very naive if you don't know that many, if not most campaign consulting agencies are entirely apolitical about collecting and shopping around their data to various candidates. It's simply about expanding their market. Do yourself a favor and volunteer on a single campaign for a state or federal level committee-favored candidate to see for yourself.


Sure, the Obama campaign itself did not do the above, but liberal-leaning SuperPACs did


No, the only truth here has been

1. It was not Democrats, therefor it was wrong if not illegal.

If Hillary had won none of this would have come about and even if it did no one in Congress would be up in arms. We have had nearly two years of people trying to delegitimize Trump's win. This is a standard political tactic by the losing side but this time Trump beat both sides at the game.

These politicians and activist refuse to acknowledge that their message is either not acceptable or delivered wrong or even worse, that a large number of people were just tired of them.

There wasn't simply enough money spent by Russia to change the outcome and this is completely ignoring the fact they have been doing similar in nearly every election they could if not within political parties and the media.


> illegally transferred

I'd question illegality. In violation of agreements, perhaps. If there were any, and there wasn't a wink, wink type of understanding on what would be done.


In violation of agreements, definitely, if you believe Facebook's public statement. I think it would be risky for Facebook to lie about their developer policies but that doesn't mean it's impossible. I don't have time right now to dig through archive.org to find an old copy of those, unfortunately.

For a much better examination of legal aspects than I can provide, see https://www.lawfareblog.com/cambridge-analytica-facebook-deb.... Please keep in mind the sentence "I am leaving aside for now the potential claims under British and European law, but those add to this list considerably," which is rather important given the EU's more aggressive privacy regulations.


It's like SuperPAC coordination. Every election cycle there are countless obvious violations of SuperPAC coordination at all levels and parties but these are hardly ever investigated much less prosecuted.


Exactly.

I sort of don't care why the media firestorm is so bad, even if it's unfair, because it means we might see some action which will limit bad actors on all sides of the political spectrum.


IMO the point is the origin application. A Campaign App used for that purpose vs. an app that shows you what your face would look like when you were older to swing distorted news.


> A Campaign App used for that purpose

But how long does the harvested data remain "valid" for that purpose? The Dems still have the harvested data from 2012, is it OK to use it for 2016, which they most likely did?


[flagged]


You can see that already with the Obama staffer. Direct quotes from someone who was there yet the mainstream media simply isn't reporting on it. Just another right wing conspiracy, otherwise CNN would be talking about it, right?

You do sometimes get bits and pieces like the Time article from 2012 that haven't been memory-holed yet, but again, the media won't bring up something like that because the intent to paint this chilling use of social media as something unique to the Trump campaign.


There is a new Washington Post article that covers the Obama campaign story - it's not being entirely silenced: https://www.washingtonpost.com/business/economy/facebooks-ru...

I agree that there is a pattern of bias to all large media outlets on both sides. They may put a piece out like this one to appear impartial but only post-facto and if it supports the rancor of a news cycle that currently leans in their side's favor.

Anyways, there is bipartisan benefit to people becoming more aware of their online presence. Maybe people will use social media less and become less fervently partisan?


They squeezed it in right at the very end, but it was actually rather surprising how little they minced words:

“We ingested the entire U.S. social graph,” Davidsen said in an interview. “We would ask permission to basically scrape your profile, and also scrape your friends, basically anything that was available to scrape. We scraped it all.”

So obviously a fair amount of strategic writing going on but all things considered, pretty respectable.

EDIT:

Bloomberg has also admitted Obama took advantage of it as well:

https://www.bloomberg.com/view/articles/2018-03-21/facebook-...

"The scandal follows the revelation (to most Facebook users who read about it) that, until 2015, application developers on the social network's platform were able to get information about a user's Facebook friends after asking permission in the most perfunctory way. The 2012 Obama campaign used this functionality. So -- though in a more underhanded way -- did Cambridge Analytica, which may or may not have used the data to help elect President Donald Trump."

To me, the interesting part going forward is: will Democrats and the mainstream media continue to frame this as if it was Donald Trump who committed the wrongdoing? I'm not really sensing any widespread public outrage so I would suspect not, but time will tell.


(Yeah yeah "I don't trust your source", but my methamphetamine-enthusiast uncle assures me that Safeway supermarket lets the Jews decide how much salt your food is allowed to have, and Gwyneth Paltrow's magnet stickers can totally cure hemorrhoids...)


Quality whataboutism that doesn't change the overall debate about these practices. You do realize they talked about exactly this in the linked article right?




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