Marco Rubio throws Facebook under the bus for allowing Trump-linked firm to take 50 million users’ information in massive data ‘breach’

Sen. Marco Rubio took Facebook to task on Sunday. Screenshot via @MeetThePress/Twitter
  • Sen. Marco Rubio said he was “disturbed” by Facebook allowing Cambridge Analytica to collect the data of millions of unwitting users.
  • He suggested Facebook hasn’t been forthcoming to Congressional investigators, and accused the company of acting like it is above the law.
  • The data firm is tied to the 2016 campaign of President Donald Trump, and is of interest to investigators in the Russia probe.

Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida tore into Facebook on Sunday in response to allegations that the social media company had allowed a data firm that worked for President Donald Trump’s 2016 campaign to harvest the data of 50 million users without their knowledge.

Rubio told NBC’s Chuck Todd that he was “disturbed” by the news, and criticised Facebook for behaving like they are above the law.

“Their growth has been a lot faster than perhaps their ability to mature institutionally from within on some of these challenges that they’re facing,” Rubio said on “Meet the Press.” “I think another part about it is sometimes these companies grow so fast and get so much good press, they get up high on themselves that they start to think that perhaps they’re above sort of the rules that apply to everybody else.”

On Friday, in response to the news, Facebook banned Cambridge Analytica, the firm that had gained access to users’ information during the 2016 campaign.

“Protecting people’s information is at the heart of what we do, and we require the same from people who operate apps on Facebook,” a company statement read.

But reports from The New York Times and The Guardian found that Facebook may have been aware of Cambridge Analytica’s access as early as in summer of 2016.

Mark zuckerberg
Senators want Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg to testify. Win McNamee/Getty Images

Rubio, who sits on the Senate Intelligence Committee, told Todd that the tech company has not been as forthcoming with investigators as it should have been about what they knew when.

“I think we’ve learned that the hard way,” Rubio said, referring to Facebook’s lack of transparency. “Every time that we’ve spoken to them, it’s kind of rolled out as more coming out.”

Sen. Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota demanded Facebook Mark Zuckerberg testify before Congress.

“This is a major breach that must be investigated. It’s clear these platforms can’t police themselves,” she said on Twitter Saturday.

Cambridge Analytica is a British company that was created by right-wing financier and hedge fund manager Robert Mercer, who was also until recently a major donor for the right-wing site Breitbart News. The company specialises in “psychographic” profiling that allows them to paint a picture of online users and then use this information to target them with political campaign ads.

In addition to Trump’s campaign, Cambridge Analytica was also highly active during the lead-up to Brexit in the UK in 2016, in which they helped the “leave” campaign garner a surprise victory.

But the company has been tied to even more controversial operations – they have been implicated in a social media effort by the United Arab Emirates last year to link its rival Qatar to terrorism.

The company’s operations and ties to Trump are under continued scrutiny by investigators in the Russia probe, according to Vox.

Rubio said he was “disturbed” by Facebook’s lack of transparency, and the way its platform has been misused to manipulate people.

“I’m disturbed by that,” he said. “I’m disturbed by the fact that Facebook has created filters to help the Chinese government censor. And they’re begging to get back into China. There’s a lot I’m disturbed about these things.”

Watch a clip of Rubio’s interview below: