The failed presidential campaign of Democrat Hillary Clinton might have developed a way to get Facebook data on millions of people who never signed off on sharing their information, according to Fox News.
The campaign developed an app called “Hillary 2016.” The app asked supporters to pair their list of Facebook friends with their phone contacts and then give the Clinton campaign permission to access that information.
As reported by Fox, individuals who were Facebook friends of Clinton supporters had no way to stop the campaign from getting their information. Fox estimated 150,000 people used the app, meaning the number of people whose information was shared without their consent would reach into the millions.
The goal of the app was to reach the friends of Clinton supports by getting pro-Clinton messages to them.
“Once the friends list was paired with the app, people had to swipe through their Facebook friends and dismiss those who, in their view, would never vote for Clinton. Once that was done, the remaining friends were sorted by location and the users could send a pre-written text message to convince them to back Clinton in numerous ways,” Fox reported.
“We know voters are more likely to take an action if they’ve been compelled to do so by their friends,” Teddy Goff, a digital strategist for Clinton’s campaign, told Politico in 2016. “One of the key objectives of our organizing technology strategy is to provide our people ways to reach out to their friends in as targeted a way as possible.”
The success of Clinton’s efforts to connect with previously uninvolved voters was trumpeted at the time by the media.
“The campaign says half the app’s users have never before donated to the campaign, RSVPed to a campaign event, or volunteered in any official way. But, prompted by the app, thousands of them now have,” the site Wired reported in September 2016.
Wired’s praise for Clinton’s app now has an eerie ring amid 2018’s concerns that privacy has been unnecessarily sacrificed by social media giants such as Facebook .
“This will not make privacy-minded folks happy, but it’s not a new phenomenon of this cycle. Back in 2012, the Obama campaign asked users to log onto the campaign website using Facebook, which would automatically enable the Obama team to peer into supporters’ Facebook friend lists and compare them to its voter file. Then, it could suggest individual friends that Obama supporters should be pestering,” Wired wrote then.
The tactics Obama used in 2012 became impossible in 2016 because Facebook had changed its rules.
.@jmpalmieri said "privacy" was among the reasons the Clinton campaign chose not to accept Facebook's offer, as Trump's campaign did, of embedding employees with the campaign staff. https://t.co/N2BA9krztG pic.twitter.com/FqhAExhMPq
— CBS News (@CBSNews) March 28, 2018
Facebook’s actions and the wider issue of privacy for social media users have been major issues in recent weeks after it was learned that Cambridge Analytica accessed about 50 million Facebook users’ information without their knowledge.
President Donald Trump noted recently that the furor over Cambridge Analytica has made people have a new level of respect for his campaign’s use of social media.
Remember when they were saying, during the campaign, that Donald Trump is giving great speeches and drawing big crowds, but he is spending much less money and not using social media as well as Crooked Hillary’s large and highly sophisticated staff. Well, not saying that anymore!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) March 22, 2018
This past week, the Federal Trade Commission said it had begun a probe into whether Facebook’s actions in the Cambridge Analytica leak broke the terms of consent decree Facebook signed with the FTC in 2011.
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