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Opinion

Readers React: The problem isn’t Facebook’s relationship with Cambridge Analytica. The problem is Facebook

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A laptop showing the Facebook logo is held alongside a Cambridge Analytica sign at the entrance to the building housing the offices of Cambridge Analytica in London.
(Daniel Leal-Olivas / AFP/Getty Images)

To the editor: The mining of Facebook data by Cambridge Analytica for political persuasion should not be a surprise. This is exactly what Facebook is designed to do, and it is the reason that Facebook is able to garner billions of dollars in advertising revenue. (“How many Facebook-fueled abuses need to happen before the government takes online privacy seriously?” editorial, March 20)

Why is it perfectly OK for people’s private lives and opinions to be exploited for commercial purposes but not for political purposes? In my view neither is acceptable, but only the second is producing an outrage.

Of course, this case is a little different because the personal data got into the hands of a private firm. But Facebook itself knows everything about its users, not just the subset who downloaded a certain app and their “friends.” In fact, Facebook’s entire business model involves mining that data and selling targeted ads based on it.

Some commentators are acting as if Facebook can be trusted but Cambridge Analytica cannot. My view is that neither can be trusted and our outrage should be much broader.

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Larry D’Addario, Pasadena

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To the editor: First the Russians messed with Facebook, and now Cambridge Analytica messed with Facebook.

Besides the obvious conclusion that Facebook is a menace, the ongoing narrative that somehow Donald Trump tricked his way into the presidency is sad, boring and pathetic.

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Trump won. Get over it and work on legitimately countering his positions instead of trying to invalidate the win or take him down. It’s taking the concept of a sore loser to an epic level.

Paul Zimmelman, Marina del Rey

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To the editor: We all have to wake up to the fact that anything we write or do online can be mined by data firms that exploit the companies we thought were trustworthy.

Our words and buying choices can be public and used to sell advertising, propaganda, fake news — whatever. It’s a further blow to any naive trust we had in privacy.

Libby Breen, Orcutt, Calif.

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