This is a response to the piece that has been quite surprising to me because I had thought that the original piece made it clear that I thought: “ The real story then is … [that Kogan] used methods that were common place and permitted by Facebook prior to 2015” and “ Facebook seems to have been altogether too cavalier with permitting developers to access its users’ private data.”
The real story then is not that Kogan, Wylie, and Cambridge Analytica developed some incredibly high tech ‘hack’ of Facebook. It is that, aside from Kogan’s data selling, they used methods that were common place and permitted by Facebook prior to 2015. Cambridge Analytica has since the story broke been outed as a rather obnoxious, unethical company- at least in how it promotes itself to potential clients. But the majority of what is being reported in the media about its manipulative power is just an uncritical regurgitation of Cambridge Analytica (and Chris Wylie’s) self-promotional claims. The problem is that there is little evidence that the company can do what it claims and plenty of evidence that it is not as effective as it likes to pretend; see the fact that Ted Cruz is not currently president.
And yet, regardless of Facebook’s official policies, it seems that they did not expend much effort to police their developers or track how the data they collected was being used. This is likely why, when Facebook first uncovered that Kogan had sold some data to Cambridge Analytica in 2015, they were content to receive written confirmation from both that the data had been deleted.