Cambridge Analytica, the data firm used by President Trump and countless other Republican presidential hopefuls, has been subject to public and congressional scrutiny in the past week for the unethical gathering of information on millions of Facebook users. The Mercer family owned firm is now in even more hot water as a ground breaking expose done by British television station, Channel 4, shows just how far they were willing to go to help politicians succeed.

Sex Workers and Bribery

According to Newsweek, the data collection firm was offering services to prospective clients that were legally and ethically questionable. In a secretly recorded tape created by Channel 4, Cambridge Analytica CEO, Alexander Nix, is seen discussing political tactics with an undercover reporter involving bribery and prostitutions to execute successful campaigns worldwide. The reporter posed as a potential political client to score a meeting with Nix and from there the conversation ensued.

How Trump is Involved

The Trump campaign employed Cambridge Analytica during the 2016 primaries, but was replaced by the data collection arm of the RNC. The data-mining firm is under public scrutiny for the unethical data collection tactics it employed during the primaries to help political candidates. Seemingly innocuous surveys were sent out to Facebook users by Cambridge Analytica, who then consented to releasing their private information to the firm.

They went ahead and not only subsequently took that user's data, but also scraped information from all of the friends of the consenting user. This allowed Cambridge Analytica to create detailed profiles on over 50 million Facebook users, many of whom did not consent to releasing their information to the firm.

Facebook's Culpability

The practices employed by Cambridge Analytica violated Facebook Policy dating back to 2015.

Using Facebook data is not completely alien to political campaigns. The Obama campaign did so in 2008 and 2012, however the information taken from those users was specific to them and not of their friends. Facebook has since then changed their policies on user information, forbidding the kind of data collection these campaigns used for commercial use. Cambridge Analytica went ahead and violated those terms of services.

Upon learning that the data mining firm had violated Facebook policy, the social media platform did nothing to inform users that their information had been taken by Cambridge Analytica and used for political gain. Although Facebook has been making adjustments to their policies regarding data collection, firms such as Cambridge Analytica have no problem violating those policies as no real repercussions have so far been posed.

Mark Zuckerberg has been asked to testify on the matter before congress but it is unlikely he will appear.

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