When you signed up for Facebook, were you aware your political preferences would be logged and handed over to political candidates for use in their data-driven campaigns?
The Cambridge Analytica scandal suggests that no, most people weren’t on board with the plan of making themselves targets for manipulation as such.
But what if Cambridge Analytica actually preempted someone else’s use of Facebook data to hyper-target voters, and what if that someone just happened to be CEO of the corporate owner of the data?
Would it be legal for Mark Zuckerberg to use person-level insights gleaned from his enormous data trove to fuel his own run for office? Strictly speaking, probably not.
However, it’s likely that the law simply isn’t prepared to handle such a scenario, and Silicon Valley is certainly not going to help it get there anytime soon.
Even right now, with the Cambridge Analytica scandal, the FTC simply cannot enforce the 2011 consent agreement with Facebook because it would destroy Facebook. The fines Facebook is liable for could exceed $2 trillion! The situation is truly a farce.
The law is rendered helpless by the enormous magnitude of the crime. This is essentially an attack on democratic governance.
Even if Zuckerberg’s potential use of Facebook data to hyper-target voters is a gray area, that doesn’t mean he couldn’t just do it. Given that Uber managed to suck Google’s autonomous driving department dry and got away with virtually no consequences, the stage is set for another scandal like that to break.
Because our governmental processes are so far behind changes in technology, Zuckerberg could probably get away with using Facebook profile information to fuel a highly targeted and data-driven campaign.