Your new Facebook privacy is really bumming out presidential campaigns

Facebook is not letting presidential campaigns have free access to your data anymore
(Image credit: MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images)

In 2007, Facebook �� then with 58 million users — opened its vault of user data, allowing researchers, startups, and political campaigns to access its "social graph," or networks of friends, "likes," and interests. Starting in May, Facebook dialed back access, citing user concerns about their information being shared without their knowledge, and those changes are "rippling through academia, business and presidential politics," say Deepa Seetharaman and Elizabeth Dwoskin at The Wall Street Journal. They continue:

Dozens of startups that had been using Facebook data have shut down, been acquired or overhauled their businesses. Political consultants are racing to find new ways to tap voters' social connections ahead of the 2016 presidential election.... The changes also stymied a voter-outreach tool used by President Barack Obama’s 2012 re-election campaign. The app identified potential Obama supporters among a Facebook user’s friends, and measured the closeness of the friendship....The targeted voters were five times as likely to click on material that came from a close friend as a randomly selected Facebook connection. [The Wall Street Journal]

Some academic researchers and entrepreneurs are upset with the changes, while others are going through Facebook's new process to mine some of the recently restricted data troves. Nick Soman, who sold his chat app Reveal after Facebook cut off access, is philosophical. "Facebook giveth and Facebook taketh away," he says. Read more at The Wall Street Journal, and also check out their graphic of what user information is still available to outside eyes — it might just make you revisit your privacy settings.

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Peter Weber

Peter Weber is a senior editor at, and has handled the editorial night shift since the website launched in 2008. A graduate of Northwestern University, Peter has worked at Facts on File and The New York Times Magazine. He speaks Spanish and Italian and plays bass and rhythm cello in an Austin rock band. Follow him on Twitter.