I’m feeling a little stupid right now. Maybe a little history is in order.
- We’ve known since 2014, back when Five Labs used our Facebook posts to analyze personality, that when we shared our data with an app on Facebook, the app’s publisher gets our friends’ data, too.
- It should have been obvious more than a year earlier, in 2013, when Wolfram|Alpha did its Facebook social graph analysis, but I didn’t draw the connection then.1I’ve been unable to determine if there is a link between Five Labs and Cambridge Analytica. Both Five Labs and Cambridge Analytica performed personality analysis using the Big 5 (OCEAN) personality traits. To my understanding, Five Labs did it first.
- A couple of years before that, in 2011, one of my friends posited that the 2012 election would be about “winning the Facebook news feed,” though I resisted the thought.2Actually, I still resist. That’s why I did my Facebook Experiment.
- And in 2009, I predicted Facebook selling targeted ads. How could it not?3This was tongue in cheek when I wrote it. Haha! I still think Facebook has a way to go before it implements all of my “plans.” But the point remains—does anyone think that Facebook doesn’t survive and thrive by selling ads into target demographics?
- We know Facebook experimented with our moods.
- We also know that Facebook studies our political views and manipulated our news feed so we saw news we agree with, with the goal of keeping us happy and on Facebook.4This doesn’t bother me. When I go to Starbucks, or the mall (yeah, right?), or the airport, I don’t mind that they try to provide a comfortable place that makes me happy. If they have reading material around, I don’t assume that I’m getting a comprehensive view of everything I should know. I wouldn’t expect it from Facebook either.
So tell me again what’s so shocking about Facebook and Cambridge Analytica? What new thing did we learn?
Btw, if you want to keep your data on Facebook more private,5If it’s on the internet, it’s not private. Regardless what settings you have, your information is no more secure than your least responsible Facebook friend on a bender early, early on a Sunday morning. there are steps you can take. Techlicious has a great walkthrough on Facebook’s privacy settings.