The queasy truth at the heart of Facebook’s Cambridge Analytica scandal, which is so far the company’s defining disgrace of 2018, is that its genesis became scandalous only in retrospect. The series of events that now implicate Facebook began in 2014, in plain view, with a listing on Amazon’s Mechanical Turk service, where users can complete small tasks for commensurately modest sums of cash. In exchange for installing a Facebook app and completing a survey — in the process granting the app access to parts of your Facebook profile — you would get around a dollar. Maybe two.
This was a great deal, at least by the standards of the time. Facebook users were then accustomed to granting apps permission to see their personal data in exchange for much less. It was the tail end of a Facebook era defined by connected apps: games like FarmVille, Candy Crush and Words With Friends; apps that broadcast your extra-Facebook activities, like Spotify and Pinterest; and apps that were almost explicitly about gathering as much useful data as possible from users, like TripAdvisor’s Cities I’ve Visited app, which let you share a digital pushpin map with your friends.
Disturbing. The Bloomberg article in the following comment is worse.
I posted this piece above to my Facebook account, writing:
Facebook is much worse than I realized. This article is ugly, the one before it from Bloomberg is really scary. A call to reformers. Maybe I’m paranoid, but I think these marketers in the Bloomberg story, are connected to all the telemarketers that keep calling my house all day.
Must read article from Bloomberg about how Facebook and others help scammers.
“They go out and find the morons for me” says one scammer.
If tobacco companies can be compelled to pay for anti-smoking public service announcements, then perhaps Facebook, Google and other data aggregators could be recruited in a fight against scammers, phishers and other fraudsters they have enabled.
As of now, there is no “fight”. It is simply a global criminal free-for-all, with the US in particular passively observing the crimes.