Facebook’s Cambridge Analytica Scandal Tops This Week’s Internet News Roundup
One of 2018’s constant meta-narratives is that there’s increasingly more news going around than anyone has time to keep up with. And in a week where even a domestic terrorist’s bombing campaign and suicide struggled to break through the noise, that’s never seemed more true. Although there’s something strangely reassuring about the fact that such a horrible news story could not only produce trolling attempts online but also reasoned responses to those attempts. Truly, even on the most packed weeks, the internet giveth and taketh away. But what else has did the internet giveth last week? All of this, dear readers.
Hey Facebook, Analyze This
What Happened: Facebook got another wave of bad press following revelations that Cambridge Analytica had pilfered and clandestinely kept data from its users.
What Really Happened: If one subject ruled the internet at the start of last week, it was the news that research firm Cambridge Analytica had harvested information from around 50 million Facebook profiles as part of its attempt to influence the 2016 election, a story broken by The Observer and The New York Times. It was a massive story that echoed across the internet, with WIRED offering up the best take, of course. It was also a story that made Cambridge Analytica, a firm funded by billionaire (and GOP donor) Robert Mercer that once had Steve Bannon on its board, look particularly suspicious at a time when there’s a lot of attention being paid to underhanded tactics in the 2016 election. And then it got worse.
Britain’s Channel 4 News had been investigating Cambridge Analytica entirely separately from the Times and Observer, and revealed just how shady the company actually is. Cambridge Analytica wasn’t taking its own words lying down, however.
Of course, that pushback happened before Channel 4 released further undercover video.
So how did Cambridge Analytica react to that?
The Takeaway: Of course, all of this focus on the shenanigans of Cambridge Analytica overlooks what might be the best part of the story: the name of the academic that the company used to pull all the data from Facebook in the first place.
What Happened: It turns out, the Cambridge Analytica story might be the straw that finally broke the Facebook camel’s back, judging by last week’s events.
What Really Happened: Meanwhile, while Cambridge Analytica was getting exposed, the backlash against Facebook was also growing increasingly vocal and taking hold … on Twitter.
For those hesitant to cut one social media platform out of their lives while talking on another, people were there to help.
Of course, there were also Facebook Hater Hipsters, who were all too happy to share that they had never fallen for the hype in the first place.
There were also folks who couldn’t wait to tell you that what you were doing wasn’t actually enough.
Nonetheless, the backlash was more real than it might have looked from the tweets. Stories about Facebook’s culpability in the data breach started to appear, as did stories wondering if the company had violated FTC rules and whether Congress was getting interested. Through it all, Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg was noticably absent—no, really, everyone noticed, although he did eventually appear, which had a knock-on effect for the company.
Now is the time for all counter-intuitive investors to buy Facebook stock. After all, this #DeleteFacebook thing isn’t really going to stick, is it?
The Takeaway: Is there a meme we can revisit to make all of this seem like a jolly jape?
No Congratulations Necessary
What Happened: Turns out, the President of the United States isn’t great at this international diplomacy thing.
What Really Happened: After Vladimir Putin stunned the world—JK—by easily winning the election in Russia last week, President Trump called him to say congratulations. Although, as it turns out, people only know that because the Russians told revealed it.
And the call drew criticism from many politicians…
…including a couple of prominent members of Trump’s own party.
Soon, reports started leaking from the White House that the president had literally been warned not to congratulate Putin by his advisors, but did it anyway.
The leak wasn’t popular inside the White House:
Or, indeed, outside of it … with certain people, at least.
It certainly added to the paranoia felt by Trump.
At least some are starting to wonder just what Putin has on Trump that makes him quite so pliable.
One man, however, had a potential answer.
The Takeaway: But maybe there’s nothing to this whole thing beyond a contrarianism in the leader of the free world?
What Happened: There’s even more turnover at the White House, but this latest personnel change is one that has a lot of people legitimately worried.
The Twitterati was out in full force in response to the news.
Certainly, everyone tried to be professional in parting statements, right?
But enough of the past! Let’s think about the incoming National Security Advisor, John Bolton. What kind of man is he?
OK, that’s not a good sign.
And neither is that.
Look, this is just getting ridiculous now, especially with headlines like “Yes, John Bolton Really Is That Dangerous” and “The Real Reason Trump’s Choice of John Bolton Should Terrify You” from the normally sober New York Times and Washington Post, respectively. Surely someone has something positive to say about the man?
OK, sure; none of this looks good right now, but at least there’s one piece of good news to hold onto.
Well, that’s reassuring.
The Takeaway: Perhaps Bolton shouldn’t get too comfortable in the position, however.
And in Stormy Daniels News…
What Happened: Apparently, just tweeting out a photo of a mysterious disc is enough to get everyone very excited.
What Really Happened: In the ever-ongoing Stormy Daniels story, last week ended with… Well, maybe not a bombshell, but certainly a tease of things to come, when Daniels’ lawyer Michael Avenatti posted the following on Twitter.
Now, what could that be? A CD of Stormy’s favorite music? A DVD of some of Stormy’s work? Or maybe … something more salacious. After all, this was the week where this happened:
As it turned out, Avenatti didn’t really say that, but even putting that idea in mind certainly makes the reading of that tweet far more interesting. (The #60minutes hashtag is a reference to Daniels’ finally scheduled interview on the CBS show, which airs tonight, in case anyone was thinking Avenatti was describing an hour-long Trump sex tape. Well, we certainly hope he wasn’t.)
Avenatti was even playing along with the speculation…
Somewhere, CBS’s promotions team is very excited for Sunday’s ratings.
The Takeaway: Look, if nothing else, this whole affair—a poor choice of wording, sorry—proves one thing: The Stormy Daniels team is probably better at Twitter than Donald Trump. After all, look at this from Daniels herself last week: