On Monday, Facebook’s stock value tumbled following reports over how its social data -- which is shared freely by users -- was used by the Trump campaign. However, Carol Davidsen, a former director of Obama for America’s Integration and Media Analytics, revealed on Twitter on Sunday that Facebook had allowed the Obama campaign free access through a possible accidental oversight. However, Davidsen appeared to indicate that Facebook's data dump for the Obama campaign was intentional.
An example of how we used that data to append to our email lists. pic.twitter.com/VHhSukvXDY— Carol Davidsen (@cld276) March 19, 2018
While Facebook is being criticized for failing to verify that data from approximately 50 million users was deleted by the Cambridge Analytica firm, Davidsen wrote Facebook provided access to Obama campaigners out of shared political convictions.
I worked on all of the data integration projects at OFA. This was the only one that felt creepy, even though we played by the rules, and didn’t do anything I felt was ugly, with the data.— Carol Davidsen (@cld276) March 19, 2018
On Twitter, Davidsen wrote on Sunday, “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.” She continued, writing, “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.” She also provided an example of how the data sets were used by the Obama campaign.
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.— Carol Davidsen (@cld276) March 19, 2018
Davidsen described that the 2012 Obama campaign led Facebook to “suck out the whole social graph” and target potential voters. They would then use that data to do things like append their email lists.
According to Carol Davidsen, a senior Obama campaign staffer, Facebook allowed them to gain access to data on the friend networks of every U.S user.— Allum Bokhari (@LibertarianBlue) March 19, 2018
And then they CUT OFF ACCESS to the feature before Republicans could harvest the same data!!
However, Facebook’s attitude toward the Trump campaign was quite different. On Friday, Facebook stated in a blog post, “In 2015, we learned that a psychology professor at the University of Cambridge named Dr. Aleksandr Kogan lied to us and violated our Platform Policies by passing data from an app that was using Facebook Login to SCL/Cambridge Analytica, a firm that does political, government and military work around the globe.” Facebook went on to state, “He also passed that data to Christopher Wylie of Eunoia Technologies, Inc.”
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.— Carol Davidsen (@cld276) March 19, 2018
“Several days ago, we received reports that, contrary to the certifications we were given, not all data was deleted,” the statement continued. “We are moving aggressively to determine the accuracy of these claims. If true, this is another unacceptable violation of trust and the commitments they made. We are suspending SCL/Cambridge Analytica, Wylie and Kogan from Facebook, pending further information.”
In a 2015 lecture, Davidsen said on video that when Obama's supporters opted in to the Obama campaign Facebook account, this gave the campaign access to the users' friends. This she likened to traditional political campaigns when a candidate's supporters share the names and contact information of their friends with the campaign. She noted that when Facebook objected, the feature was shut down. The information that the Democrats obtained, however, was retained and continued to be in use after the 2012 election campaign. The Trump campaign, Davidsen said, did not have the same program. See video below at 19:00 minutes.