Platform Cooperativism Resource Library


Facebook, Data Governance, & Trusts in Practice

This past weekend, years of advocacy and reporting from Carole Cadwalladr, Paul-Olivier Dehaye, and Max Schrems finally got its due on the front pages of the New York Timesthe Guardian, and then, well, everywhere else. Without going into the minutiae, Cambridge Analytica, a voter manipulation firm, harvested the records of 50m mostly US voters through a quasi-academic organization called Global Science Research. The theory is that they used that data and Facebook’s micro-targeting services to stoke division and, ultimately, elect Donald Trump, among others.

The reporting has painted this as a breach, though there’s argument of what, and commentators are highlighting a wide range of legal, ethical, and regulatory theories to seek accountability. While we brace for a lot of hearings and performative discipline, it’s important to recognize a bigger issue: technology platforms and data collectors share huge amounts of sensitive data with researchers with very little review or enforcement all the time.

Added May 12, 2020