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‘The end of the Wild West’: Facebook-Cambridge Analytica revelations cast shadow on online ad practices

March 20, 2018 / Lucia Moses

Facebook was the subject of bombshell reports over the weekend. The revelations about Trump-linked Cambridge Analytica’s misuse of Facebook user data to sway voters in 2016 and Facebook’s failure to alert users could have bigger implications for the way most digital advertising is bought and sold. For years, the digital ad industry has rebuffed most proposals to regulate ad targeting. The frequent mantra was that personally identifiable information isn’t used, no harm is done and, besides, the direct mail industry is far more invasive. In light of the spotlight being shone onto Cambridge Analytica, that approach probably won’t work. “It’s the end of the chapter of the total Wild West, what’s-the-harm way of thinking,” said David Carroll, an ad tech expert at The New School who is suing Cambridge Analytica to obtain his data profile. “The whole line that ‘there’s no harm caused by this’ doesn’t stand anymore.&...