Did Cambridge Analytica Steal Facebook Data to Help Trump Win?

Donald Trump
Donald Trump

Many believe that Trump had won the election fraudulently with information manipulation while in a fair election Hillary Clinton would have easily defeated Trump.

By Rakesh Raman

These days, Facebook is in the eye of the storm for a privacy scandal in which a rogue data analysis firm stole and shared Facebook user data without users’ consent.

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.

On Wednesday, India’s Bhartiya Janata Party (BJP) led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi also blamed opposition party Congress for committing fraud in elections in connivance with Cambridge Analytica.

As Facebook is facing a Congressional probe in the U.S. for its involvement in the data breach case, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg offered an apology Wednesday.

“We’re working with regulators as they investigate what happened,” Zuckerberg wrote in his Facebook post. “I want to share an update on the Cambridge Analytica situation — including the steps we’ve already taken and our next steps to address this important issue.”

“We have a responsibility to protect your data, and if we can’t then we don’t deserve to serve you,” Zuckerberg stated in his article.

But he failed to address the issue of the damage that Facebook has already caused by allowing data theft from his social media site.

For example, if Trump has won the 2016 presidential election by using stolen data, how will Zuckerberg compensate millions of American voters who did not want Trump to win the 2016 presidential race?

Many believe that Trump had won the election fraudulently with information manipulation while in a fair election Hillary Clinton would have easily defeated Trump.

Although Trump had received majority of the 538 state-by-state electoral votes to win the presidency, Clinton won 48.2% of the popular vote compared with 46.1% for Trump.

In other words, Clinton got nearly 3 million more votes than what Trump got in the November election. But the U.S. election system declared Trump as the winner.

It is not only Cambridge Analytica that misused Facebook data. It is also said that some agencies linked to the Russian government also bought ads on Facebook between 2015 and 2017 in order to influence the U.S. voters with fake content. About 3,000 such ads appeared on Facebook for which the company earned nearly $100,000.

Although Russians bought ads on other online sites such as Google also, the investigating agencies have been focusing on Facebook because it is believed that Facebook worked in connivance with Russians to change the outcome of election in favor of Trump.

In the Cambridge Analytica case, Zuckerberg said in his Wednesday’s post that Facebook has taken some steps “to prevent bad actors from accessing people’s information.” But, he said, there’s more that Facebook needs to do.

“I started Facebook, and at the end of the day I’m responsible for what happens on our platform,” Zuckerberg said.

That’s fine. But what is the punishment for Zuckerberg for the irreparable damage that his Facebook has caused to the democratic processes in the world?

By Rakesh Raman, who is a national award-winning journalist and social activist. Besides working at senior editorial positions with leading media companies, he was writing an exclusive edit-page tech business column (named Technophile) regularly for The Financial Express (a daily business newspaper of The Indian Express Group).

Earlier, he had been associated with the United Nations (UN) through United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO) as a digital media expert to help businesses use technology for brand marketing and business development. He also runs a free school for deserving children under his NGO – RMN Foundation.

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