YOU’VE HEARD OF FACEBOOK, right? The social media platform that started out as a safe-seeming sandbox for sharing details with friends and family about our lives? Over the weekend, Facebook’s 2.2 billion active users might finally have gotten the message that it’s not that way any longer, if it ever was.
On Saturday, The New York Times reported that Cambridge Analytica, a voter-profiling startup flush with a $15 million investment from right-wing Republican Robert Mercer, harvested private information from the Facebook profiles of more than 50 million users — without their permission. Christopher Wylie, a Cambridge Analytica founder-turned-whistleblower, told the Times that his former bosses “want to fight a culture war in America,” shaping data into the sharp end of the spear.
Facebook responded with all the bluster of a corporate tech giant. Facebook executive Andrew Bosworth deflected urgent questions by quibbling over terminology, saying, “This was unequivocally not a data breach,” according to BloombergTechnology. Facebook’s chief security officer, Alex Stamos, defended the company on Twitter, then, according to Recode, tried to delete his tweets — proving the truism that social media can make any reputational hit geometrically worse.