Report: Feds widen scope of Facebook/Cambridge Analytica scandal probe

Federal investigators have widened their investigation into Facebook’s role regarding ads targeting millions of its users by data firm Cambridge Analytica, according to a report in The Washington Post.

Five anonymous sources told the Post that the FBI, the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) and the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) have joined the Department of Justice in the investigation.

The sources said that in addition to determining what Facebook knew and when, the investigation will use statements from the company itself, including testimony given to Congress in April by Chief Executive Officer Mark Zuckerberg.

Since the news erupted earlier this year that Cambridge Analytica improperly used data from Facebook to target 87 million users, Facebook has introduced a slew of new privacy initiatives.

In April, Facebook said it would conduct an independent research project meant to determine social media’s impact on elections. The company also doubled the number of employees working on safety and security measures; limited the amount of user info apps have access to; introduced an app removal tool for users; and suspended 200 apps for the misuse of data.

In June, the company announced a transparency update to Custom Audiences, created new rules for political and issue-related advertisements and added new initiatives to fight “fake news.”

But despite its efforts, new privacy snafus continue to come to light. Just this week, Facebook had to alert 800,000 users that people they blocked may have been unblocked for a week last month. And in June,  the company confirmed that the privacy settings for 14 million users had been switched to public and that it mistakenly sent app analytics reports to the wrong people.

Also, this week, the company introduced a new review process for developers who want access to Facebook’s Marketing API.

Facebook spokesperson Matt Seinfeld confirmed to the Post that it was working with the federal agencies.

We are cooperating with officials in the US, UK and beyond. We’ve provided public testimony, answered questions, and pledged to continue our assistance as their work continues.

About The Author

Robin Kurzer started her career as a daily newspaper reporter in Milford, Connecticut. She then made her mark on the advertising and marketing world in Chicago at agencies such as Tribal DDB and Razorfish, creating award-winning work for many major brands. For the past seven years, she’s worked as a freelance writer and communications professional across a variety of business sectors.

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