New Lawsuit Filed. Did Facebook Help Trump Win 2016 Presidential Election?

Donald Trump
Donald Trump

The Office of the Attorney General (OAG) is seeking monetary and injunctive relief, including relief for harmed consumers, damages, and penalties to the District.

By Rakesh Raman

The Attorney General of the District of Columbia filed a lawsuit Wednesday against Facebook for its failure to protect users’ data.

In his complaint, Attorney General (AG) Karl Racine alleges that Facebook’s lax oversight and misleading privacy settings allowed, among other things, a third-party application to use the platform to harvest personal information of millions of users without their permission and then sell it to a political consulting firm.

In the run-up to the 2016 presidential election, some Facebook users downloaded a “personality quiz” app which also collected data from the app users’ Facebook friends without their knowledge or consent, the complaint alleges.

It further says that the app’s developer then sold this data to Cambridge Analytica, which used it to help presidential campaigns target voters based on their personal traits. Facebook, according to the complaint, took more than two years to disclose this to its consumers.

[ Did Cambridge Analytica Steal Facebook Data to Help Trump Win? ]

It is reported that the British consulting firm Cambridge Analytica was secretly manipulating Facebook data of nearly 50 million users and selling it mainly to politicians to help them win elections.

Reports suggest that the firm’s data was used by U.S. President Donald Trump in the 2016 presidential race. Similarly, the Brexit campaign also used the stolen data.

Currently, special counsel Robert Mueller is leading an investigation to know the extent of election fraud and Trump-Russia ties that may have helped Trump win 2016 presidential election.

[ Trump Blames Facebook, Twitter, and Google for His Debacle ]

“Facebook failed to protect the privacy of its users and deceived them about who had access to their data and how it was used,” said AG Racine. “Facebook put users at risk of manipulation by allowing companies like Cambridge Analytica and other third-party applications to collect personal data without users’ permission. Today’s lawsuit is about making Facebook live up to its promise to protect its users’ privacy.”

Facebook offered a clarification today with an ambiguous tweet without mentioning about the lawsuit. “No third party was reading your private messages, or writing messages to your friends without your permission,” Facebook tweeted.

The Office of the Attorney General (OAG) is seeking monetary and injunctive relief, including relief for harmed consumers, damages, and penalties to the District. You can click here to read the OAG complaint.

By Rakesh Raman, who is a national award-winning journalist and social activist. He is the founder of a humanitarian organization RMN Foundation which is working in diverse areas to help the disadvantaged and distressed people in the society.

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Rakesh Raman