Mar 21, 2018

Facebook's growing problems

Illustration: Rebecca Zisser/Axios 

Facebook is caught in the middle of a rapidly unfolding scandal over Cambridge Analytica's improper gathering of data on millions of users, and what that exposed about the company's data collection. The fiasco has drawn the interest of lawmakers and regulators and rekindled the debate over its role in the 2016 presidential election.

Why it matters: The bad headlines continued to pile up; "A hurricane flattens Facebook" said Wired, "Silicon Valley insiders think that Facebook will never be the same" per Vanity Fair, "Facebook is facing its biggest test ever — and its lack of leadership could sink the company" from CNBC, and — as we've yet to hear from the company's top leaders — "Where is Mark Zuckerberg?" asks Recode.

Facebook reaches a tipping point
  • It's not that the reports reveal anything particularly new about how Facebook's back end works — developers have understood the vulnerabilities of Facebook's interface for years. But stakeholders crucial to the company's success — as well as the public seem less willing to listen to its side of the story this time around.
Wall Street turns on social media after Facebook scandal
  • Calls for tighter regulation around user privacy and data transparency could completely upend the powerful business models around tech that have, for years, served as lucrative investment opportunities.
Facebook to brief Congress as data scandal rages
  • Interest from lawmakers and government officials continues to grow as additional information is released on the details of Facebook's involvement with the Trump-linked data analytics firm. Two state AGs have said they are investigating Facebook's actions.
Facebook employees got to ask questions, but not of Mark Zuckerberg
  • Facebook's top two executives have remained silent throughout the ongoing reports while demands for answers from the public and employees alike. Facebook held a meeting Tuesday where employees could ask questions about the Cambridge Analytica issue, but neither Zuckerberg nor Sandberg were in attendance.
Facebook's folly could impact other businesses
  • Increased calls for new user privacy regulations could upend the entire social media business model, and create massive ripples for other businesses that rely on that model for their own marketing efforts. That's a big reason why the Dow fell 1.4% Monday, even though Facebook isn't actually part of the Dow.

Go deeper

Exclusive: Trump's "Deep State" hit list

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios. Photos: WPA Pool/Getty Pool, Drew Angerer/Getty Staff

The Trump White House and its allies, over the past 18 months, assembled detailed lists of disloyal government officials to oust — and trusted pro-Trump people to replace them — according to more than a dozen sources familiar with the effort who spoke to Axios.

Driving the news: By the time President Trump instructed his 29-year-old former body man and new head of presidential personnel to rid his government of anti-Trump officials, he'd gathered reams of material to support his suspicions.

Exclusive: Anti-Sanders campaign targets black South Carolina voters

Courtesy of The Big Tent Project

The Big Tent Project, a Democratic political group focused on promoting moderate presidential candidates, has sent hundreds of thousands of mailers bashing Bernie Sanders to black voters in South Carolina who voted in the state's 2016 primary.

Why it matters: Sanders' rise to the top of the pack, as dueling moderate candidates split their side of the vote, is worrying many in the Democratic political establishment who fear a socialist can't beat President Trump.

Inside the fight over FBI surveillance powers

Carter Page. Photo: Artyom Korotayev\TASS via Getty Images

Over the past year, President Trump has told senior administration officials, including Attorney General Bill Barr, that he wants a major overhaul of national security surveillance powers and the secret court that approves them.

Behind the scenes: In one such discussion last year about the need to reauthorize government authorities to surveil U.S. citizens, Trump went so far as to say he'd rather get rid of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) altogether.