Each week, the “Can He Do That?” podcast explores critical questions about what today’s news means for our nation and its highest office. Listen here.
Confused about the Cambridge Analytica scandal and how it relates to Donald Trump's 2016 presidential campaign?
You're not alone.
That's why we're spending this week's episode of the “Can He Do That” podcast talking about Facebook, Internet privacy regulations, and the ways that political campaigns use data mining and social media to target and influence potential voters.
We talk to Washington Post tech policy reporter Tony Romm, who walks us through the reasons that Facebook's apparent failure to protect the private data of 50 million users has caused outrage on Capitol Hill.
“Facebook got in a lot of trouble in 2011 for the way it was handling consumers' personal information,” Romm said. “And there were a number of complaints that had been raised by consumer-protection groups. But the thrust of it came down to this: If you said that you wanted your information to be treated one way, and Facebook went and changed its settings, and something that you listed as private suddenly was public — they shouldn't have the ability to do that.”
And Daniel Kreiss, associate professor in the school of media and journalism at the University of North Carolina, explains why Trump and lawmakers don't have a lot of incentive to crack down on the kinds of manipulative data collection that has gotten Facebook and its third-party app in trouble.
“It's always been in politicians' and elected officials' best interests to have data about the electorate,” Kreiss said. “They want to know who their voters are. They want to know who the people they represent are — in ways that they can sort of speak to them and engage them in political processes. And that helps them in their reelection bids.”