Facebooks Clegg: Impossible for Cambridge Analytica-style scandal to happen again

Widespread misuse of peoples data to target voters with political advertising ahead of elections is no longer possible on Facebook, according to Nick Clegg, the social networking giants vice president for global affairs and communications.

Speaking to reporters Tuesday, the former British deputy prime minister said the activities around Cambridge Analytica, the now-defunct British data firm that illegally accessed peoples social media data to target them in a number of elections, could not be replicated because of actions that Facebook had taken over the last two years.

Clegg said that Cambridge Analyticas tactics, which included illegally using data that had been collected on Facebook users by an academic, had been outlawed on the platform, and that greater checks on who could buy political ads and what was permissible under the companys own policies had cleaned up much of the wrongdoing.

“The events surrounding Cambridge Analytica are now impossible,” Clegg said when asked by POLITICO if a similar data-gathering operation could take place on the platform. “It is just simply no longer possible for that to happen on Facebook.”

While the Cambridge Analytica scandal focused on the illegal use of Facebook data to pepper voters on the platform with targeted, personalized ads, political operatives are still able to use large databases of peoples digital information, legally obtained, to create detailed advertising campaigns on the social network. Google and Twitter, in contrast, have either banned or significantly curtailed the use of so-called micro-targeting.

When asked if organizations could circumvent Facebooks checks on who could buy political advertising, Clegg conceded that the companys safeguards were not perfect.

In the wake of the Cambridge Analytica incident, Facebook is also under investigation by Irelands data protection agency for how it has handled peoples information, and reached a record $5 billion settlement with U.S. authorities for how the British data analytics firm was misusing peoples data.

Cleggs defense comes as political operatives are still spending hundreds of millions of dollars on paid-for messaging ahead of the U.S. election in November, according to the companys own transparency tools. Since 2018, when Facebook first made such advertising figures available, individuals and organizations in the U.S. have spent almost $2 billion on social media adverts. That includes a large number of undisclosed ads still making through Facebooks systems, according to a recent reportRead More – Source