FACEBOOK ALLEGEDLY KNEW about Russian data harvesting way back in 2014, according to claims by a UK MP.
As reported by Bloomberg, Damian Collins, MP and head of the committee of British lawmakers, says he reviewed an email from a Facebook engineer who noted suspicious data harvesting activity on the social network in 2014 that could be linked back to Russia.
Such activity would mean Russia had been potentially meddling with Facebook users some two years ahead of the 2016 US presidential election, which was when Facebook apparently became aware of Russian political and voting manipulation activity on its platform.
Collins got hold of the email after Parliament effectively seized a cache of documents belonging to US firm Six4Three that contained data relating to how Facebook decided to implement privacy controls that led to the Cambridge Analytica data scandal.
At first, it would look like Facebook was either negligent or simply ignored potential meddling from pesky Ruskies. But things are not as they appear according to Facebook.
"The engineers who had flagged these initial concerns subsequently looked into this further and found no evidence of specific Russian activity," the social network said to Bloomberg, suggesting Collins took the mail out of context.
We also contacted Facebook, which responded with a copy of what is claimed to be the internal email in question, albeit with names and email addresses redacted.
That email shows that there were concerns around a number of calls made against a Facebook API, which looked to be coming from Russian IP addresses.
But Facebook looked into the issue and concluded that the high volume of calls came from Pinterest, not Russia, and that suggestions of billions of calls were in fact only six million or so.
The situation seemed to stem from an improper use of a Facebook API by Pinterest and that Pinterest was in the process of moving to a new version of the API.
So according to the evidence Facebook presented us, it would appear the Collins has got some wires crossed here and that Facebook was not aware of Russian activity some two years before it became a noteworthy issue.
Maybe if Mark Zuckerberg popped over the Atlantic for a chat with Collins and pals, he'd be able to clear the whole situation up, but Zuck doesn't seem to want to do that. µ
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