Despite PR-drenched protestations to the contrary, the Facebook data on 50 million people illicitly obtained by Cambridge Analytica has not been completely deleted.
At least not all of it, anyway. Instead, a decent chunk of the personal information is loose in the wild, and no amount of handwaving from Mark Zuckerberg and Co. will be enough to put it back in the Facebook-shaped bottle.
This was made abundantly clear by London’s Channel 4, which managed to view the data of 136,000 individuals that is currently in the hands of “a Cambridge Analytica source.” In other words, someone, somewhere, still has this stuff.
This “Facebook-derived data” focused on Colorado residents, and was originally used for Cambridge Analytica’s election targeting efforts.
To make matters worse, it is unclear how many people or groups still have access to the very same thing we’ve been assured has been deleted. According to Channel 4, the profile data was “passed around using generic, non-corporate email systems,” meaning it’s possible that this one source of theirs isn’t the only one with with his or her hands on it.
This, perhaps unsurprisingly, isn’t being received well by those whose profiles are in the data set.
“It’s a manipulation of our society by people who don’t really care about our society,” observed a nurse named Janice interviewed by Channel 4. “They care about their business.” (Channel 4 didn’t include Janice’s last name.)
A similar data set reportedly still exists for Oregon residents.
“They care about their bottom line and they aren’t here for all of us,” added Janice, “other than they want to manipulate all of us because we’re either a voter or a consumer.”
This is not a good look for Zuckerberg, who tried to pass as much buck as possible for this entire mess in a March 21 Facebook post. In which, he claimed his company “demanded” that both Cambrige Analytica and the researcher who obtained the data in the first place “formally certify that they had deleted all improperly acquired data.”
“They provided these certifications,” Zuckerberg insisted.
Clearly, no one at Facebook felt the need to double check anything.