This is superb journalism, very frightening and quite clearly the tip of an iceberg.
The short version: one company surreptitiously and unethically gathered data on 1/3 of US Facebook users and used it to precision-target them with political messages on behalf of the Trump campaign.
The algorithm at the heart of the Facebook data breach sounds almost too dystopian to be real. It trawls through the most apparently trivial, throwaway postings –the “likes” users dole out as they browse the site – to gather sensitive personal information about sexual orientation, race, gender, even intelligence and childhood trauma.
A few dozen “likes” can give a strong prediction of which party a user will vote for, reveal their gender and whether their partner is likely to be a man or woman, provide powerful clues about whether their parents stayed together throughout their childhood and predict their vulnerability to substance abuse. And it can do all this without an need for delving into personal messages, posts, status updates, photos or all the other information Facebook holds.
The same company was used by the Leave side during the run-up to the Brexit referendum.
The data in this scandal is a tiny proportion of the data Facebook has on everybody.
Here’s your regular reminder that Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook CEO, plans to run for President of the USA.