Mark Zuckerberg finally came out and said he was sorry that Facebook had allowed Cambridge Analytica to harvest data from 50 million user profiles without their permission; data which they then used to help Donald Trump's presidential campaign in 2016. As late-night stars tried to wrap their heads around this breach of trust, Trump himself took to Twitter to tout his social media success during the campaign.
Maybe he doesn't get that this is being perceived as a bad thing, as more manipulative than praiseworthy. Even as a whistleblower from Cambridge Analytica described how the company developed phrases like "deep state" and "drain the swamp" to elicit responses from potential Trump supporters and manipulate them emotionally, the president seems pleased with how well it worked.
Remember when they were saying, during the campaign, that Donald Trump is giving great speeches and drawing big crowds, but he is spending much less money and not using social media as well as Crooked Hillary's large and highly sophisticated staff. Well, not saying that anymore!
Trevor Noah broke down some of the specifics of how Cambridge Analytica utilized the data it collected illegally to try and sway support to the Trump campaign, while Samantha Bee, Seth Meyers and Jimmy Fallon looked at the potential fallout for Facebook ... or the fact that there might not be any at all.
"Late Night with Seth Meyers"
Right away, Meyers took Facebook to task for what he called "spying" on its users for advertising purposes. "Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg addressed the company's data-handling scandal this afternoon saying, 'We have a responsibility to protect your data and if we can't then we don't deserve to serve you,'" Meyers said.
"One thing you could do is stop spying on us," he then suggested as an ad for a t-shirt reading "Stop Spying on Us!" appeared on the screen. "Hey, how did Facebook know I was talking about spying?" From here a series of ads showed up for a spy movie and items adorned with the phrase "Quit it!" from a doormat to an apron to a pair of socks.
"Actually those are pretty cute. I think I'm gonna get those. Thanks Facebook!" Meyers finally declared of the socks, subtly showing how Facebook is able to get away with this type of data mining and manipulation. People are only mad about it until it benefits them personally, and then it's not so bad. Look how cute my new socks are?
The TBS late-night host broke into the story with faux shock that all those Facebook quizzes and silly viral posts like "Which famous painting do you look like?" are pretty obvious data mining ploys. "No one just tells you what painting you are for free," she said. It's that they lured 270,000 people into voluntarily giving up their data, but then exploited them by taking the data of their friends as well for a whopping total of 50 million profiles.
"The company that did this unauthorized harvesting was Cambridge Analytica, which I was surprised to learn is not a villainous organization in some Vin Diesel movie," Bee said. "Fun fact: Vin Diesel and Donald Trump have the exact same amount of hair."
She then pointed out that Cambridge Analytica was actually run by Steve Bannon, who would shortly thereafter find himself in a key position in Trump's administration. "You know things are bad when you hear the words Bannon and face," Bee joked.
"The Daily Show with Trevor Noah"
Over on Comedy Central, Noah broke down in the most detail just how Cambridge Analytica was able to use the data it gathered. He said of the company's name, "I know it sounds like a Harry Potter spell that does your homework, but it's actually a data analytics company dedicated to one thing: figuring out how to manipulate you at all costs"
To drive home the point that the company only got 270,000 users to voluntarily share their data and wound up with the profiles of 50 million by harvesting their friends' profiles as well, Noah said, "It's like your friend boned someone and then you get the STD."
As more about the company's practices are coming to light, it's being revealed that Cambridge Analytica used manipulation, or "electronic brainwashing" techniques to sway Facebook users. "Cambridge Analytica figured out that the phrase 'drain the swamp' made people angry at career politicians, and this would make them want to vote for Donald Trump," Noah pointed out, following it up with a clip of Trump himself explaining that the phrase was given to him to rile people up.
"Trump didn't create new fears in people. He found a way to appeal to fears and desires that already existed," Noah explained. "In the same way that Facebook would be like, Hey, you remember your friend Steve from high school? Except this time it would be like, Hey, you remember how you're scared of brown people?"
The NBC star kept it short and sweet, only mentioning the ongoing Facebook scandal toward the end of his monologue.
"Since it came out that Facebook's data was misused during the 2016 election their stock has taken a huge dive," Fallon pointed out, which is absolutely true. Some users have even begun deactivating their accounts while news media articles are emerging that show them how to not only deactivate the account, but delete it completely.
"You can tell Mark Zuckerberg is worried because today he applied for a job at MySpace," Fallon joked.