Posts tagged "Facebook"

Facebook moves to make UK political ads ‘transparent’

17/10/2018 Posted by News, Press Releases 0 thoughts on “Facebook moves to make UK political ads ‘transparent’”

From today, Facebook will be rolling out a tool that will attempt to make political adverts transparent.

Following revelations brought forward by Chris Wylie, Cambridge Analytica whistleblower and Brexit whistleblower, Shahmir Sanni, Facebook has slowly introduced measures to prevent fake news and foreign intervention into elections.

Kyle Taylor, Director of Fair Vote UK, said: “Facebook didn’t really want to introduce transparency, they were well aware of these issues for quite some time. It’s a shame that the Europe has suffered three democratic processes, that we know of, to have been affected by the lack of transparency in political advertising – the Brexit referendum, the referendum on the 8th Amendment in Ireland and our recent General Election. While this is a start, self-regulation is not enough to ensure proper behaviour. This needs to be part of electoral law with adequate deterrents to guarantee these giant corporations don’t hijack our democracy again.”

British citizens are preparing a damages claim against Facebook

11/07/2018 Posted by News, Press Releases 0 thoughts on “British citizens are preparing a damages claim against Facebook”

Information Commissioner Elizabeth Denham has today published a scathing report into how British Citizens’ data and privacy has been violated.


Kyle Taylor, Director of Fair Vote UK, said “Under new GDPR laws, the ICO could fine Facebook for £479 million. Unfortunately, because they had to follow old data protection laws, they were only able to fine them the maximum of £500,000. This is unacceptable. Facebook must be held accountable for their violations of British citizens’ data. Fair Vote UK is preparing a class action claim against Facebook, which already has 84 claimants. All 1.1 million British citizens impacted by the Cambridge Analytica data breach can join the claim. People can check if they were impacted and join the claim on our website.


When it comes down to our democracy we should not be negotiating with private companies. Until now, Facebook has been allowed to make their own rules. It is time for Parliament to fulfil their legislative duties and regulate data barons like Facebook.”


With regard to the ICO’s call for a pause of digital political ads: “The ICO has called for an ‘ethical pause’ on digital advertising until regulation is brought in that will robustly protect fairness in our democratic processes. This is exactly what Fair Vote UK has been calling for since whistleblowers revealed damning evidence about how UK democracy was manipulated using voter microtargeting and misuse and abuse of data. It is shocking that even the ICO cannot implement the recommendations it sees fit but instead relies on political will that seems to be sadly lacking in order to restore trust in democratic processes.”


And on SCL Group, Cambridge Analytica and AIQ: “Furthermore, criminal proceedings for SCL Group mean those who committed these offenses may now be brought to justice. Similarly, a notice to Aggregate IQ to stop processing British citizens’ data raises further concern that such data may still be held overseas. While this is a start, there is still more to be done to hold these companies to account.


The Information Commissioner herself said that citizens have little idea of what is happening behind the scenes about how the average voters’ data is being used and also how personal data may have impacted the outcome of the Brexit referendum in ways that broke electoral law. These issues are of great concern and need to be dealt with urgently – especially in light of recent resignations and cabinet unrest – before we consider having another poll of any sort – whether it is another referendum or a general election.”

5 Questions for Alexander Nix

30/05/2018 Posted by News 0 thoughts on “5 Questions for Alexander Nix”

Next Wednesday, Alexander Nix will finally appear in front of the DCMS select committee investigating fake news and its impact on our elections. The former Cambridge Analytica CEO has avoided answering publicly for the allegations against his now-defunct company — until now.

The Fair Vote Project has been instrumental in holding Cambridge Analytica and Mr Nix to account. In the wake of the data harvesting scandal, we are preparing a damages claim against Facebook to bring justice to the 1.1 million UK Facebook users affected. We are also calling for broader Electoral Commission reforms and a digital bill of rights to protect users against the predatory practices of companies like Cambridge Analytica who see us as no more than data sets to be manipulated.

Mr Nix’s appearance presents an extraordinary opportunity for the DCMS select committee to gain further insight into the ways in which Cambridge Analytica and SCL Elections have been involved in misuse of data and election manipulating.

The Fair Vote Project has five main questions that should be asked:

  1. What is Emerdata and what is it’s purpose?
    When Cambridge Analytica and SCL Elections announced they were filing for bankruptcy and closing their doors, many were quick to point out that several high level executives and investors from CA and SCL had already formed a new company — Emerdata. Not much is known about this entity so it is vital that DCMS gets to the bottom of who they are and what they’re doing. Can we really allow this company to continue on with business as usual under a different name?
  2. What was the exact relationship between Cambridge Analytica and Leave.EU?
    The Electoral Commission has just released their findings on Leave.EU, fining them £70,000 and referring Chief Executive Liz Bilney to the Met police for criminal investigations. While the EC did not find evidence of collaboration between Cambridge Analytica and Leave.EU, Mr Nix, Arron Banks, and Andy Wigmore have all spoken in the past about the work CA did for Leave.EU. We must understand exactly how CA was involved in Leave.EU’s work to determine how it may have influenced the turnout of the election.
  3. What type of data does Cambridge Analytica/SCL Elections hold on UK citizens and where is it held?
    Nix and CA were proud to boast about the ‘5,000 data points’ they had about every US citizen during the 2016 presidential election. But they’ve never been forthcoming about what exactly these data points were or how they received this information. In light of the news of the harvested Facebook data, this boast is particularly troubling. CA and SCL Elections both had headquarters in London and have done work in the UK in the past. What kind of data did they have on UK citizens?
  4. Can hyper-specific data targeting really impact elections?
    Up until recently, CA and Mr Nix especially have spoken at length about how influential CA’s unique brand of behavioural analysis and targeting can be on elections. However, in the aftermath of the data harvesting scandal, they’ve backtracked and insist that ultimately, candidates win elections, not data. Mr Nix must answer for how impactful this targeting may be, for the sake of our future democracy.
  5. Is CA cooperating fully with authorities in the UK as well as the US and other countries potentially affected to share materials and data vital to the investigations into CA’s role in using people’s data without permission?
    When CA/SCL declared bankruptcy, many worried they would use this as an opportunity to destroy potential evidence. The DCMS select committee must ensure that Mr Nix and CA are willing to comply with the active investigations going on.

What would you ask Alexander Nix? Let us know:

Mark Zuckerberg Disappoints

23/05/2018 Posted by News, Press Releases 0 thoughts on “Mark Zuckerberg Disappoints”

Mark Zuckerberg evades answering questions at yesterday’s disappointing hearing

Mark Zuckerberg appeared before the European Parliament yesterday to answer questions regarding the misuse of Facebook data by companies who have sought to influence elections around the world. His questioning came the day we heard that anti-abortion apps, Save the 8th and LoveBoth, being used to promote their cause in the Irish referendum on the 8th Amendment are collecting data and passing it on to Conservative groups in the USA, pro-Brexit groups and the Conservative party in UK.

It is unlikely that users are aware of the manner in which their data is being collected and who it is being given to. Trackers contained inside the apps have Facebook analytics which Facebook says can produce deep demographic analysis.

Kyle Taylor, Director of The Fair Vote Project, said “Zuckerberg was not held accountable at all, he was permitted to respond to questions in one go with no follow up questioning from MEPs’. Apparently this is what it looks like to be held to account for crimes against democracy. It seems totally without merit to ask him one hundred questions if he can just pick and choose the ones he wants to answer and avoid the more incriminating questions.

This painfully slow process illustrates just how weak our democratic institutions are at protecting and preserving our democracy and how big money is running roughshod over citizens’ right to self-determination – and it is quite literally happening again as we speak in Ireland and absolutely nothing has been done about it.

Zuckerberg claims to be trying to fix the problems that have recently come to light about misuse of Facebook data but suspicious apps like Save the 8th and LoveBoth continue to use Facebook products to abuse the current system.

When will our leaders around the world stand up to these self-styled data barons and give us back our democracy?”

Sign our petition for a Digital Bill of Rights to demand better protections for individuals online.

Mark Zuckerberg Ignores Summons

18/05/2018 Posted by News, Press Releases 0 thoughts on “Mark Zuckerberg Ignores Summons”

Mark Zuckerberg will not answer MPs’ questions despite being issued with a formal summons

Facebook today announced that Mark Zuckerberg will not be appearing before MPs following the Electoral Commission’s appearance in front of the DCMS select committee today. Jeff Silvester, Chief Operating Officer of AIQ, the Canadian data company faced with allegations of illegal campaign coordination in the referendum with Vote Leave, BeLeave and several other campaign groups is set to appear before the committee tomorrow.

Facebook failed to answer some of the DCMS select committee’s key questions of how UK Facebook users were manipulated and influenced in the 2016 referendum. Some of the most important questions, such as from where AIQ received their data for who to target or how much overlap there was between the ads AIQ made for Vote Leave, BeLeave, Veterans for Britain and the DUP Vote to Leave went unanswered. Hopefully Mr Silvester will shed some much needed clarification on these vital inquiries.

Kyle Taylor, Director of The Fair Vote Project, said “No one is shocked that Zuckerberg has refused to stand before Parliament to explain the potentially illegal conduct of his company, conduct that may have allowed others to heavily manipulate voters during the Brexit referendum and thereby making a mockery of our democratic processes. And once again, shows how little respect Facebook has for the countries they operate in and the citizens’ data they use to profit from. It has been nearly two years since the referendum. The fact that Facebook still cannot provide the DCMS select committee with exactly what ads UK Facebook users saw leading up to the referendum is disgraceful. Elections have long lasting consequences and if Facebook and other social media companies can not quickly and efficiently pinpoint when their advertisers are breaking local electoral laws or spreading misinformation, we must ensure that regulatory bodies like the Electoral Commission have the power to intervene in a meaningful way.

The Electoral Commission’s testimony today to the DCMS select committee said that if reform was to happen it needs to be wholesale to be effective, this is something we are backing. Their suggestions for reform match what The Fair Vote Project is calling for: namely, fines that fit the crime rather than the current cap that is seen by many to simply be the cost of doing business, greater enforcement powers, ideally prosecutorial powers and a better way of reporting spending. The Fair Vote Project believes a report-as-you-spend system should be put in place to ensure transparency and fairness in real time.

It’s been months since the revelations from whistleblowers were made public and yet nothing has changed, cheating can still happen in elections and referenda – as we see happening in Ireland right now. There needs to be immediate, wholesale reform of the institutions entrusted to make sure our elections are free and fair so that we no longer need to rely on whether or not Facebook deigns to get its house in order or turn up for questioning.”

The Fair Vote Project was set up to tackle this issue head-on. Our whistleblower secure channels are open to anyone who has evidence of cheating by any party in the referendum. We are committed to securing a fair vote and ensuring the Electoral Commission is fit for purpose in a digital age.

The Fair Vote Project has taken the decision to publish the whistleblower evidence for everyone to see. The evidence we have so far can be seen on our website, because the public deserve to know the truth about what’s happening in our democracy.

The People v Facebook

10/05/2018 Posted by News, Press Releases 0 thoughts on “The People v Facebook”

The Fair Vote Project prepares a class-action claim against Facebook over its misuse of data that may have been used to manipulate UK and global elections

The Fair Vote Project has been contacted by some of the 1.1 million people whose Facebook data was harvested by the “This Is Digital Life” app created by Aleksandr Kogan and subsequently passed on to Cambridge Analytica, at which point it is unclear how this data may have been used and potentially misused.

All individuals and companies involved have deliberately obfuscated on the question of how exactly this data has been used though evidence brought forward by whistleblowers suggests it was used to manipulate voters.

Some people may have consented to having their data taken but most did not, as the app “scraped” the data of Facebook friends of those who downloaded the app without their knowledge.

The Fair Vote Project is preparing a damages claim for breaches of the data protection act and they will be running adverts on Facebook asking users who had their data taken to join the class action claim. If successful, Facebook could face damages in the billions of pounds.

Kyle Taylor, Director of The Fair Vote Project said “A few weeks ago, I found out that I was one of the 1,079,031 people in the UK whose data was harvested by Aleksandr Kogan’s This Is Your Digital Life app, and subsequently passed on to Cambridge Analytica.

Facebook had no right to give away this data. If your data was taken in this way, you could be a claimant. Facebook is the data controller of the data you have on Facebook and they effectively allowed it to be transferred to a third party without your knowledge or consent. This is wrong and shouldn’t go unpunished.

The implications of this data being handed to third parties are in no way minor and may have changed the course of elections around the world.

We also very worryingly still do not know the extent of data taken or exactly what is was used for. There is absolutely no indication that Facebook has taken this issue seriously, as we see – right now – voter manipulation has been happening in Ireland using Facebook, which they just recently have taken action regarding. It’s quite late in the game for them to finally apply the measures we know we needed since the revelations brought forward by whistleblowers.

If Facebook won’t take it seriously and if governments aren’t moving quickly enough then it’s up to us to hold these companies to account.”

PS – The Fair Vote Project is working with Bindmans LLP to gather claimants. Every pound we raise will be used to find more claimants and cover legal costs. We are using digital ads to find claimants. If you have seen one of these ads, you fit one of the following categories: you studied policy studies, political science, public policy, or you have expressed interest in activism, civil service, electoral reform, equal opportunity, feminism and equality, government, local government, policy, political science, public policy, public sector, social equality, social movements, or voting.

Digital Crisis In the Irish Referendum

08/05/2018 Posted by News 0 thoughts on “Digital Crisis In the Irish Referendum”

The Fair Vote Project has learned an investigation carried out by Claire Provost and Lara Whyte at openDemocracy 50.50 suggests that foreign and ‘alt-right’ activists are using social media to target Irish voters during the upcoming referendum on the 8th amendment – an amendment that restricts abortion under most circumstances.

It is against Irish law for foreign actors to donate to Irish campaigning groups however this law does not apply to digital adverts of a political nature on social media platforms – this loophole could allow foreign citizens and groups to influence elections by targeting voters.

openDemocracy 50.50 said it had “analysed newly-released data compiled by the Transparent Referendum Initiative (TRI) which show that 145 groups and individuals have bought more than 350 Facebook ads about the referendum. Most of the advertisers appear to be based in Ireland but there are also foreign organisations on the list. Several of the Irish advertisers, including both anti-abortion and pro-choice groups, also have significant international connections.”

The Fair Vote Project has been focussing on similar issues in the United Kingdom and believes it is imperative to both draw attention to this issue and advise on urgent action that can be taken: An immediate suspension of digital political advertising across social media platforms until new legislation is updated so that it can effectively regulate the use of data and targeting during elections and prevent foreign meddling in the democratic processes of other nations that are meant to be sovereign.

On the list uncovered by openDemocracy 50.50 most foreign groups are based in the United States and Canada. One group based in Virginia called the Radiance Foundation is known for creating highly shareable social media content and using language similar to Black Lives Matter to attack black women who have abortions.