LANSING — State Rep. Phil Phelps (D-Flushing), the Vice Chairman of the House Committee on Communications and Technology, is calling on Facebook to send representation to an upcoming committee meeting to answer questions from members on the committee. His request is in response to recent revelations of how advertisers with Facebook were permitted to download extensive amounts of personal information from nearly 50 million Facebook user accounts.
“Although we expect that other people can see comments and photos after we post them online, there is a sense of trust that Facebook has violated by allowing third parties to download private messages, photos and videos between users of their service,” said Phelps. “To make things worse, it appears that at least one of the companies Facebook gave our private information to happens to be an organization that has a reputation of unsavory political tactics and a history of potentially working with foreign adversaries like Russia.”
In the last two weeks, it has been revealed that the data analytics firm, Cambridge Analytica, harvested the Facebook profiles of millions of U.S. voters to create a software program that would influence and predict how voters would cast their ballots in the 2016 election. The software profiled U.S. voters to target personalized political advertisements in their social network feeds.
“After hearing from several angry and concerned residents, I requested my downloadable profile from Facebook to see what type of information they were giving away. I was shocked to discover that Facebook not only kept records of private conversations using the Facebook Instant Messenger function, but that they are so willing to let their clients download it in bulk,” Phelps said. “I have constituents contact me through Facebook requesting help for some of their most dire life situations. They send me medical records, tax documents, and very personal information using Facebook, and now the security of that information may be compromised. Facebook has a lot of questions to answer, and I hope they are prepared for it!”