Ex-White House Press Secretary slams media, Facebook

Sean Spicer says he believes that Facebook's response to the Cambridge Analytica scandal has been 'lacklustre at best'
By Bernd Debusmann Jr
Thu 29 Mar 2018 01:55 PM

Former White House presss secrtary Sean Spicer described suggestions that data gleamed from Facebook by Cambridge Analytica had any bearing on the outcome of the U.S. presidential election in 2016 as “highly irresponsible”.

Speaking to Arabian Business in Sharjah, where Spicer was among the speakers at the Sharjah International Government Communications Forum, he dismissed the controversial British data mining and strategic communications firm as “a vendor that helped place some ads.”

“It is irresponsible and misguided to describe it as anything more than a relationship with a vendor,” he said.

Spicer, however, acknowledged that the Republican National Committee collected their own data, which was used for a variety of purposes.

“What [Cambridge Analytica] did and how they did it, I don’t know. But we used ad buying firms for broadcast media, radio, television, et cetera, and a bunch of different types of web-based or social [platforms],” he noted. “But to suggest that one medium won is a…misread of the election, and a misunderstanding of American politics, and, fundamentally, patently false.”

During the interview, Spicer also harshly criticised Facebook’s handling of the Cambridge Analytica issue, and said it points to a larger lack of transparency on the part of social media outlets.

“The response from Facebook has been lacklustre, at best,” he said. ‘I would have expected a much more robust, forward leaning response to what they’ve given so far. I think they should be setting an example for other social platforms.

“My advice to these companies, the technology companies, the social platforms, is to get ahead of it by being more transparent, by trying to protect their customers, not just their data,” he noted. “[They should] share with them what they’re gleaming [from the data], and how they can do a better job themselves as users to protect it.”

When asked if he is confident that social media companies such as Facebook would take steps to be more transparent, Spicer responded without hesitation.

“No. I’m not,” he said.

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