On the web, privacy in peril

Innocent victim or background contributor? Facebook now faces questions from authorities on both sides of the Atlantic Ocean after news reports in The Guardian and The New York Times this week revealed that a psychologist illicitly gave data from 50 million Facebook users to a political consulting firm that tailored political ads to many users during the 2016 U.S. presidential election.

Cambridge Analytica, the firm that also advanced the Brexit referendum in Britain, is owned by hedge fund billionaire Robert Mercer and was run by Steve Bannon from 2014‒2016 before he joined Donald Trump’s presidential campaign. According to whistleblower Christopher Wylie, who helped develop the targeting software, the firm tested pro-Trump slogans such as “drain the swamp” and met with Trump’s first campaign manager, Corey Lewandowski, more than a year before Trump announced his candidacy.

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