Ex-Obama Campaign Director Drops Bombshell Claim on Facebook: 'They Were on Our Side'

| MAR 19, 2018 | 4:00 PM

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A former Obama campaign official is claiming that Facebook knowingly allowed them to mine massive amounts of Facebook data — more than they would’ve allowed someone else to do — because they were supportive of the campaign.

In a Sunday tweet thread, Carol Davidsen, former director of integration and media analytics for Obama for America, said the 2012 campaign led Facebook to “suck out the whole social graph” and target potential voters. They would then use that data to do things like append their email lists.

(MOREEx-Obama Campaign Director: It's 'Unfair' Facebook Let Us 'Ingest Entire Social Network of US')

When Facebook found out what they were doing, they were “surprised,” she said. But she also claimed they didn’t stop them once they found out:

“They came to office in the days following election recruiting & were very candid that they allowed us to do things they wouldn’t have allowed someone else to do because they were on our side,” Davidsen tweeted.

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She added that she believes Facebook also recruits people “on the other side” too:

Davidsen began the tweet thread with a link to a Time article outlining the Obama campaign's Facebook targeting campaign, which she said was codenamed “Project Taargus”:

That’s because the more than 1 million Obama backers who signed up for the [Facebook-based app] gave the campaign permission to look at their Facebook friend lists. In an instant, the campaign had a way to see the hidden young voters. Roughly 85% of those without a listed phone number could be found in the uploaded friend lists. What’s more, Facebook offered an ideal way to reach them. “People don’t trust campaigns. They don’t even trust media organizations,” says Goff. “Who do they trust? Their friends.”

The campaign called this effort targeted sharing. And in those final weeks of the campaign, the team blitzed the supporters who had signed up for the app with requests to share specific online content with specific friends simply by clicking a button. More than 600,000 supporters followed through with more than 5 million contacts, asking their friends to register to vote, give money, vote or look at a video designed to change their mind. A geek squad in Chicago created models from vast data sets to find the best approaches for each potential voter. “We are not just sending you a banner ad,” explains Dan Wagner, the Obama campaign’s 29-year-old head of analytics, who helped oversee the project. “We are giving you relevant information from your friends.”

Facebook did not immediately respond to IJR's request for comment. IJR has also reached out to Davidsen as well as current and former Mitt Romney campaign officials for comment.