Here are the New York Times and Observer stories that pushed Facebook to suspend Trump’s data analytics company

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Cambridge Analytica had profile information for some 50 million Facebook users, according to reports.

Now we know what prompted Facebook to suspend Cambridge Analytica, the data analytics firm the Trump campaign used during the 2016 election: The company was trying to get ahead of big stories about Cambridge in both The New York Times and the Observer.

Both stories hit Saturday morning, and claim that Cambridge Analytica had amassed a data trove with information from more than 50 million Facebook users it collected without their permission.

That’s a much larger number than Facebook reported last night, when it said that just 270,000 people “gave their consent” to hand over data to a third party researcher and University of Cambridge professor named Dr. Aleksandr Kogan.

How does that work? Back in 2015, Kogan, who also worked at a company called Global Science Research, created an app called “thisisyourdigitallife,” which used Facebook’s login feature that lets people join a third party app with their Facebook account, instead of creating a new app-specific account. Some 270,000 people logged into the app that way, granting Kogan permission under Facebook’s rules to scrape some of their profile data, including their identity and things that they’ve “liked.”

But that permission also gave Kogan access to data about the friend networks of these 270,000 people, which amounted to tens of millions of Facebook users, according to The Times. Kogan then shared that data with Cambridge Analytica, which was “building psychographic profiles” on American voters in order to target them with ads.

Here’s a key graph from the Times’s story:

“[Kogan] ultimately provided over 50 million raw profiles to the firm, Mr. Wylie said, a number confirmed by a company email and a former colleague. Of those, roughly 30 million contained enough information, including places of residence, that the company could match users to other records and build psychographic profiles. Only about 270,000 users — those who participated in the survey — had consented to having their data harvested.”

Kogan and Cambridge Analytica both certified to Facebook that it had destroyed this data back in 2015, but “copies of the data still remain beyond Facebook’s control,” The New York Times is reporting.

Cambridge Analytica claims that the data has been deleted, and that it had no idea it was collected in ways that violated Facebook’s terms of service.

“When it subsequently became clear that the data had not been obtained by GSR in line with Facebook’s terms of service, Cambridge Analytica deleted all data received from GSR,” a company spokesperson said in a statement sent to Recode. “We worked with Facebook over this period to ensure that they were satisfied that we had not knowingly breached any of Facebook’s terms of service and also provided a signed statement to confirm that all Facebook data and their derivatives had been deleted.”

“No data from GSR was used by Cambridge Analytica as part of the services it provided to the Donald Trump 2016 presidential campaign,” the statement added.

Facebook, for its part, is adamant that the company did nothing wrong — the data was collected appropriately under its terms of service, it was then abused by the collector. Facebook’s Chief Security Officer Alex Stamos said it bluntly on Twitter Saturday morning: “[Kogan] lied to those users and he lied to Facebook about what he was using the data for.”

It’s an illuminating look at how Cambridge Analytica and the Trump campaign “won” Facebook during the campaign — Trump’s Facebook strategy has been identified as a key factor in his surprising victory.

But the stories also leave a number of unanswered questions:

  • How helpful was the data in targeting U.S. voters? How much of a difference did it make?
  • Will Facebook change its policies to further limit the data that third parties can collect from its users?
  • How much of the data is still out there online, and is it being used by the Trump campaign today?

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Facebook suspended Donald Trump’s data operations team for misusing people’s personal information

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Facebook said late Friday that it had suspended Strategic Communication Laboratories (SCL), along with its political data analytics firm, Cambridge Analytica, for violating its policies around data collection and retention. The companies, which ran data operations for Donald Trump’s 2016 presidential election campaign, are widely credited with helping Trump more effectively target voters on Facebook than his rival, Hillary Clinton. While the exact nature of their role remains somewhat mysterious, Facebook’s disclosure suggests that the company improperly obtained user data that could have given it an unfair advantage in reaching voters.

Facebook said it cannot determine whether or how the data in question could have been used in…

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Why Trump’s Broadcom/Qualcomm Takeover Block Is Good for the U.S.

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Embattled mobile chip-maker Qualcomm has endured one heckuva year defending itself against a wide range of damning accusations and multi-billion dollar liabilities. From the alleged abuse of its cushy, dominant position in leveraging “unfair, monopolistic control” over the mobile chip market, to the multiple government-led investigations leading to massive penalties levied against the San Diego-based Snapdragon-maker — Qualcomm […]
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New Climate Report Forthcoming, Despite Trump’s Climate Change Views

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On March 12, the U.S. National Academies, an independent organization that produces a vast number of reports on the world of science, medicine, and engineering, released their review of the draft of the Fourth National Climate Assessment (NCA4). The assessment, produced by the U.S. Global Change Research Program (USGCRP), evaluates the ongoing progress of climate change and its impact on the United States.

The National Academies review committee concluded that the new climate report provides an accurate description of climate change and its lasting effects.

The NC4A draft builds on evidence put forward by 2017’s Climate Science Special Report, which stated that “it is extremely likely that human activities, especially emissions of greenhouse gases, are the dominant cause of the observed warming since the mid-20th century.”

The Washington Post reports that the NCA4 draft makes it clear that coastal environments are being impacted the most. This builds off previous studies that have emphasized the threats such areas face if the 1.5 degree Celsius climate goal isn’t met.

“As the pace of coastal flooding and erosion accelerates, climate impacts along our coasts are exacerbating preexisting social inequities as communities face difficult questions on determining who will pay for current impacts and future adaptation strategies and if, how, or when to relocate vulnerable communities,” the report reads.

Scientists working on NCA4 were initially worried the Trump administration would intervene or prevent this climate report from being released, as it contradicts the president’s stance on climate change — a stance that ultimately led to the U.S.’ withdrawal from the Paris Climate Agreement. However, the draft was released as intended.

There’s still more work to be done before the report’s full release later this year. The review committee suggests improving how the report conveys key information in order to appeal to a broader audience, as well as highlighting advances made since the last climate assessment was published.

“There’s a tremendous interest and demand for updated information and also examples of how various communities are approaching climate issues,” Daniel Cayan, a professor at the University of California at San Diego and a member of the review committee, told The Washington Post. “So, I believe that there’s a community of consumers that really are depending on the National Climate Assessment, and I would be very surprised if it does not continue and it is not sustained.”

The post New Climate Report Forthcoming, Despite Trump’s Climate Change Views appeared first on Futurism.


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Trump’s ‘Space Force’ sounds a lot like the Space Corps his administration didn’t want

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Today during a speech to military members in San Diego, President Trump proposed the idea of creating an entirely new branch of the US military specifically geared toward war efforts in space. He dubbed this theoretical new branch the “Space Force,” noting that such a new agency could become reality soon.

The problem is Trump’s administration actively opposed the idea of a Space Force last year. In June, the House Armed Services Committee drafted legislation in the National Defense Authorization Act that would create a “Space Corps” within the US Air Force.

The Air Force didn’t want it and even the White House objected to the idea at the time, saying it would create more bureaucracy. “I oppose the creation of a new military service and…

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Former Microsoft CFO Chris Liddell could be Trump’s next top economic adviser

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It could give Silicon Valley more influence in the Trump administration.

Chris Liddell, the former chief finanical officer at Microsoft and a key touchpoint for current tech execs in the Trump administration, could become President Trump’s top economic adviser.

That’s according to reports Saturday that fingers Liddell as the likely next head of the National Economic Council, the policymaking advisory body that is currently led by Gary Cohn. The White House said this week that Cohn would leave his gig soon.

Liddell is currently the White House’s director of strategic initiatives and is said to be a key ally of Jared Kushner in an administration rife with internal feuds. Liddell and Reed Cordish, another businessman and friend of Kushner’s, have been two of the main emissaries from the White House to Silicon Valley. Cordish said last month he was also leaving the White House.

Liddell’s profile would certainly expand if he were take the job — he would be expected to advise Trump on everything from tarriffs to tax cuts to entitlement reform. And it would also likely give tech more access to the White House in the same way that Cohn, a former president of Goldman Sachs, gave Wall Street access to it.

The New Zealand-born Liddell served as CFO at MIcrosoft from 2005 to 2009 before jumping to General Motors.

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Trump’s video game meeting may not lead to any further action

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Early this week, Trump at last announced that he would meet with leaders of the video game industry. Not to discuss the rising frustration with loot boxes, but to rehash the exhausted and research-debunked notion that playing games causes people to b…
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Here’s all the games in Donald Trump’s ‘violence in video games’ supercut

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Earlier today, President Donald Trump met with game industry executives and their critics to talk about the link between video games and violence, a topic many of us got sick of discussing years ago. Trump reportedly opened the meeting by showing a supercut of bloody video game deaths, remarking “this is violent, isn’t it?”

But precisely which games does the Trump administration think may be inadvertently training the next mass shooter? Since the video is now posted on the White House YouTube channel, we can tell you that among other things, he’s apparently pretty worried about Call of Duty.

Here’s what we’ve found in the video:

  • The death of Call of Duty: Black Ops character Joseph Bowman (2010)
  • A collection of scenes from Call of…

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Recode Daily: Trump’s top economic adviser is the latest high-profile exit from the White House

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Gary Cohn, chief economic adviser to President Trump

Plus, Google is helping the Pentagon build AI for drones, Amazon is elbowing out Instacart for Whole Foods delivery, and Google Street View goes to Disneyland.

President Trump’s top economic adviser, Gary Cohn, is leaving, becoming the latest in a series of high-profile departures from the White House. Cohn, a free-trade-oriented Democrat and Goldman Sachs vet, heads the National Economic Council, and opposed to the president’s plan to impose across-the-board tariffs on steel and aluminum; watch the market today to see how investors react. [The New York Times]

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Google is helping the Pentagon build artificial intelligence for detecting and identifying objects out of drone video footage. The pilot project with the Defense Department’s Project Maven set off an internal firestorm when Google employees learned of the company’s involvement. Some were outraged that Google would offer resources to the military for surveillance technology; others said the project raised important ethical questions about the development and use of machine learning. [Kate Conger and Dell Cameron / Gizmodo]

Amazon is squeezing out Instacart in its Whole Foods delivery push. San Francisco-based Instacart became Whole Foods’ first national delivery partner in 2014; in 2016, Whole Foods signed a five-year contract making the startup the exclusive delivery provider for most of its merchandise. Instacart declined to comment on whether Whole Foods is violating the deal by allowing Amazon to deliver its goods. [Olivia Zaleski and Ellen Huet / Bloomberg]

BlackBerry is suing Facebook, claiming that many of Facebook’s messaging features infringe on BlackBerry’s patents. The former messaging powerhouse also says that Facebook is using its IP in a number of its products, including Facebook Messenger, WhatsApp and Instagram. [Kurt Wagner / Recode]

Rival chipmakers Qualcomm and Broadcom are in a back-and-forth that can only be described as a soap opera. Yesterday, the U.S. government said Singapore-based Broadcom’s proposed acquisition of Qualcomm could pose a national security risk, and called for a full investigation into the hostile bid. Here’s a refresher on the timeline of this saga, and some thoughts on Qualcomm’s defensive maneuvers. [Ben Bajarin / Recode]

Top stories from Recode

HQ Trivia raised new funding at a $ 100 million valuation and its co-founder apologized for his previous bad behavior.

HQ raised $ 15 million in a round Recode reported was in the works last month.

Netflix is worth more than GE or Ford, and it’s creeping up on Disney.

Here’s how Netflix’s market cap has changed since the beginning of 2017.

Techmeme, the influential tech news aggregator, is launching its own podcast.

Because everyone has a podcast. (That’s a good thing!)

WeWork is acquiring digital marketing startup Conductor.

It’s another move by WeWork to diversify its business model outside renting office space.

Uber’s self-driving trucks have been hired to deliver freight in Arizona.

The company provided little detail on the scale of the operation.

Sheryl Sandberg says Facebook is taking the tech backlash seriously – and it’s doing something about it.

On the latest episode of Recode Decode, the Facebook COO cited economic insecurity as the source of “techlash.”

This is cool

This is the only way I’m going to Disneyland.

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President Trump’s Tariff on Imported Aluminium and Steel Could Make Apple Products Costlier in the US

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Donald Trump, the President of the United States, has revealed that he plans to impose a 25 percent tariff on imported steel and 10 percent on imported aluminum. The President is interested in taking this move so as to protect local companies in the US. He will be signing the order next week and has promised that it will remain in effect for a long time. Continue reading
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