Kyle Taylor leads the Fair Vote Project, and they plan to sue Facebook | Photo: Fair Vote
A gay man is going to sue Facebook, in a case that could see the firm pay billions in damages.
Kyle Taylor, Director of the Fair Vote Project, is leading the fight to sue the social media giant.
It’s after finding out he was one of over one million people whose data was ‘scraped’ from Facebook.
The ‘This Is Digital Life’ question app would harvest your data – an app, which ended up in the hands of Cambridge Analytica.
Cambridge Analytica is the now-closed firm, swept up in a scandal that’s been in headlines worldwide. But it’s one that has implications for how US President Donald Trump took to the Oval Office, and the UK’s vote to leave the European Union.
They face accusations of micro-targeting politically charged ads to people, using the stolen data from Facebook.
But Taylor tells Gay Star News the implications for LGBTI people go beyond Brexit and Trump. They could be much more personal:
‘Anyone who engages with a data firm that has used these schemes could then use seemingly private data to target a person based on their sexual orientation.’
It may seem innocent enough to have ads targetted to you based on how you define your sexuality. But Taylor’s concern is that people could use it maliciously:
‘The data harvested would likely have included sexual orientation whether or not it was public.’
And even if you don’t publically state your sexuality on Facebook, Taylor says they could still work it out:
‘Based on your likes, they could work out your sexual orientation.
‘They can then either include or exclude an LGBTI person for targeted advertising. I think this is a form of “outing” someone for advertising purposes.’
And perhaps worse – the data can also identify people who are homophobic.
This could allow people to target posts at people who already dislike the LGBTI community, just to stir up more hate:
‘Where people have apprehensions and negative feelings towards LGBTI people – dark ads campaigns could play on existing homophobia.’
‘The bottom line is this private data – possibly including sexual orientation – was taken without consent. They have to answer to that.’
Over 1.1 million people had their data ‘scraped’ from Facebook
Taylor says his project is already in touch with some of the 1.1 million people whose data is part of the Cambridge Analytica Facebook scrape.
He says at this point it is unclear how the data may have been used or ‘potentially misused’.
But even though the Cambridge Alayitica firm is closed – the data is still there, and can never be given back.
Taylor is hoping this case can ‘penalize Facebook for breaking the Data Protection Act’ and act as a first step to holding them to account in this growing scandal.
Taylor says Facebook had no right to give away his data. And is calling on anyone else who also had thi data stolen to join his claim:
‘You could be a claimant if your data was part of the scrape, in the same way as mine was. Facebook is the data controller of the data you have on their platform. So they, effectively, allowed it to be transferred to a third party without your knowledge or consent. This is wrong and should face punishment.’
‘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.’
Your data could be part of the scandal, even if you did not log on with Facebook to the This Is Digital Life app. This is because if any of your Facebook friends did log on, they could have exposed your data to be used too.
The Fair Vote project has created a simple tool to help you find out if your account was affected.
Gay Star News has reached out to Facebook for comment.
The gay men trying to understand an international political cheating scandal
Taylor is just one, of four gay men at the heart of this story.
The most famous of them is now the former Cambridge Analytica employee and now whistleblower Chis Wylie. He gave the firm the ‘incredibly powerful data monster’ they used during the Trump and pro-Brexit Vote Leave campaign.
Wylie says without Cambridge Analytica’s help – Vote Leave would not have won the Brexit campaign.
Then there is Shahmir Sanni, who was outed by the UK government when he blew the whistle on what he calls Vote Leave’s cheating during the Brexit campaign.
Shahmir says there was illegal coordination between Vote Leave and a sister campaign he ran BeLeave. Something that he says ‘calls into the question the democratic values’ of the EU referendum.
Shahmir’s data puts, yet another gay man spend for BeLeave into the fray. Darren Grimes spent £625,000 ($827,400 / €705,000) on BeLeave’s behalf just days before the vote.
Shahmir says his campaign got this money – but they could only spend it in the way Vote Leave told them to. This kind of collaboration is illegal under UK referendum laws.
In recent weeks the Electoral Commission fined another campaign group Leave.EU. They got the maximum penalty of £70,000 ($95,000 / €79,000) available to the Electoral Commission, for spending over allowed limits during the EU referendum campaign.
But they also say their investigation found: ‘no evidence that Leave.EU received donations or paid-for services from Cambridge Analytica for its referendum campaigning.’
The Electoral Commision then referred the case over to the UK police for further investigation.
Vote Leave and Leave.EU has always denied any overspend during the campaign. Businessman Aaron Banks, the largest donor to UKIP, who co-found Leave.EU called the record fine ‘absurd’ and ‘politically-motivated.’
Read more from Gay Star News:
Gay Brexit whistleblower: I’ll sue the UK for outing me
Trump and Brexit gay whistleblowers call for second Brexit referendum