(INVESTOR’S BUSINESS DAILY) — Elections: Facebook now faces myriad legal actions for its apparent misuse of private data on its members. But one possible legal problem that isn’t getting any attention involves whether Facebook (FB) made, and the Obama campaign accepted, illegal “in-kind” contributions to Obama’s 2012 re-election effort.
As we noted earlier, the Obama campaign’s use of Facebook data dwarfed anything Trump did. Cambridge Analytica purchased data from an academic, who gathered it in 2014 through an app that said the data would only be used for academic purposes. There’s no question that was misleading.
But by the time the general election rolled around, the Trump campaign had dumped Cambridge as a consultant, which means the data Cambridge bought had no impact on the general election.
In contrast, the Obama campaign’s use of Facebook was massive, and even more intrusive. About a million people let the campaign gather not only data on themselves, but on all their friends, who didn’t know their data was being harvested as well — a number that could easily have reached 190 million, which, at the time, was about equal to every active Facebook user in the U.S.
Obama’s tech gurus were able to match this rich treasure trove of personal data — likes, dislikes, photos, etc. — with other databases, creating the largest and most detailed profiles on voters ever assembled.
And the campaign aggressively used its unique access to influence millions of people the campaign identified as “persuadable,” sending them highly targeted campaign messages that appeared to come from their Facebook friends, rather than the Obama campaign.