Examples of Abuse

Almost everyday a company or government abuses your data. Whether these abuses are intentional or the result of error, we must learn from these abuses so that we can better build tomorrow's policies and technologies. This resource is an opportunity to learn that this has all happened before, as well as a tool to query these abuses.

Please contact us if you think we are missing some key stories.

 

27 Apr 2017
In a November 2017 report, Facebook's security group outlined the steps it would take to combat new forms of misuse of the platform, including attempts to deceive people and manipulate civic discourse at low cost or risk to the organisers. Among the drivers, the group cited the global reach Facebook
26 Dec 2018
Shortly after the 2016 US presidential election, LinkedIn founder and billionaire Reid Hoffman made a series of multi-million-dollar donations to dozens of left-leaning groups. Among them was American Engagement Technologies, in which Hoffman invested $750,000. In 2018, Hoffman wound up apologising
17 Dec 2018
A December 2018 analysis of the use of Facebook by Matteo Salvini and Luigi Di Maio, Italy's two populist leaders, showed that the two exploited Facebook's streaming video and live broadcast services to bypass the mainstream media and foment discord during the March 2018 Italian general election
10 Oct 2015
In 2019, a prominent page on the Facebook Business site cited the British Conservative Party as a "success story" at the 2015 general election, which put the party into power with a narrow majority. The site boasted that via Facebook the Conservatives had an 80.6% reach in key constituencies, 3.5
26 Dec 2018
A startling amount of the internet is fake in one way or another, studies found in 2018. Less than 60% of web traffic is human; a 2013 study found that at least half of YouTube traffic was bots masquerading as people; in November 2018 the US Justice Department revealed that eight people were accused
27 Dec 2018
In 2014, when the the far-right party of French politician Marine Le Pen needed cash, the loan of €9.4 million came from First Czech-Russian Bank, which was founded in the early 2000s as a joint venture between a Czech state bank and a Russian lender and went on to come under the personal ownership
20 Dec 2018
In 2015, officials within the US Treasury Department Office of Terrorist Financing and Financial Crimes unit used a network of private Gmail and Hotmail accounts set up by the Russians with the stated goal of jointly defeating ISIS. Soon, however, instead the Russian financial crimes agency was
18 Nov 2018
As part of the digital campaign to win re-election, in mid-2018 the BJP, which controls the Indian national government as well as that of the state of Chhattisbarh, handed out $71 million worth of free phones and subsidised data plans to 2.9 million of the state's voters and then used the phones to
22 Nov 2018
In November 2018, the Spanish senate approved 220-21 an online data protection law intended to ensure compliance with the General Data Protection Regulation with an added amendment that allowed political parties to use personal data obtained from web pages and other publicly accessible sources for
04 Dec 2018
During the campaign leading up to the 2018 US midterm elections, the email accounts of four senior aides at the National Republican Congressional Committee were surveilled for several months. The intrusion was detected in April 2018 by an NRCC vendor, who alerted the committee and its cybersecurity
09 Dec 2018
A December 2018 analysis found that Facebook's measures for improving election security and discouraging anonymous political messages were poorly executed and inconsistently applied, and placed an unfair burden on charitable organisations and small businesses while simultaneously being easy for
18 Dec 2018
A December 2018 report prepared by the Oxford Internet Institute's Computational propaganda Research Project and the network analysis firm Graphika for the US Senate Intelligence Committee found that the campaign conducted by Russia's Internet Research Agency during the 2016 US presidential election
02 Nov 2018
Facebook's latest tool for inspecting political ads showed that in the run-up to the US mid-term elections in November 2018, many of the same politicians who had been questioning Facebook about privacy and leaked user data were spending campaign funds on advertisements on the service. Between 2014
21 Nov 2018
A 2018 study found that Twitter bots played a disproportionate role in spreading the false claim, made by US President Donald Trump shortly after winning the election but losing the popular vote in November 2016, that 3 million illegal immigrants had voted for Democratic opponent Hillary Clinton
22 Nov 2018
In the run-up to the May 2019 European Parliament elections, Google announced it would launch a new set of transparency tools to combat voter manipulation. Before being allowed to buy advertising on Google platforms, campaigns will be required to verify their identity, and approved ads will be
03 Nov 2018
In November 2018, the UK government announced that 11 local authorities across England would participate in Voter ID pilots in the interest of gaining "further insight into how best to ensure the security of the voting process and reduce the risk of voter fraud". Five local authorities participated
15 Jun 2018
In June 2018, a panel set up to examine the partnerships between Alphabet's DeepMind and the UK's NHS express concern that the revenue-less AI subsidiary would eventually have to prove its value to its parent. Panel chair Julian Huppert said DeepMind should commit to a business model, either non
19 Apr 2018
By 2018, Palantir, founded in 2004 by Peter Thiel to supply tools for finding obscure connections by analysing a wide range of data streams to the Pentagon and the CIA for the War on Terror, was supplying its software to the US Department of Health and Human Services to detect Medicare fraud, to the
30 Jun 2018
In 2018, the Spanish La Liga app was found to be using the microphone and GPS to clamp down on bars infringing copyright by broadcasting matches without paying. Granting the app the permissions it requests at installation to access the mic and GPS location allows it to turn on the mic at any time
13 Jun 2018
In June 2018 Apple updated its app store policies to bar developers from collecting information from users' address books and selling it on. While some apps have a legitimate need to access users' contacts, collecting information unnecessarily is a common money-making tactic. How many apps were