Top 10 stories of 2018: Facebook in freefall, the Khashoggi affair and Brett Kavanaugh

From left to right: Murdered Saudi dissident Jamal Khashoggi, the Yellow Vests protests and Prince Harry and Meghan Markle FACEBOOK AND CAMBRIDGE ANALYTICA Whistleblower Christopher Wylie, former director of research at political consulting firm Cambridge Analytica, revealed in March that the firm had harvested personal data from millions of Facebook profiles without consent and used it for political targeting. Facebook then revealed earlier this year that a third-party personality quiz distributed on Facebook gathered profile information on 87 million users worldwide and then sold the data to Cambridge Analytica. The revelations sparked outrage internationally and forced Facebook to announce a series of changes it would be making to restrict access to client data. Many now allege that the actions of Cambridge Analytica and Facebook may have been key to both the election of US President Donald Trump and the Brexit vote in 2016. In the first significant move to punish the company for its actions, the attorney general for Washington, DC, said in December the US capital city had sued Facebook for allegedly misleading users about how it safeguarded their personal data. THE BENALLA AFFAIR French President Emmanuel Macron became engulfed in a PR scandal when his then deputy chief of staff, Alexandre Benalla , 26, was found to have impersonated a policeman and roughed up protesters at a May Day rally. Footage of Benalla beating a young man on the ground and pulling a woman by the hair caused widespread shock, compounded when it was revealed that Macron had known about the incident and did not report Benalla to the authorities. The controversy continued to spiral with Macron’s high-handed handling of the case. The É lysée Palace took weeks to officially fire Benalla, he was suspended without pay for two weeks – but was later found to have been paid – and the case never went to court. AFP file photo | A May Day incident involving Alexandre Benalla (pictured right) has triggered the biggest political scandal of Emmanuel Macron’s presidency. Macron, who critics have compared to the “Sun King” and who has acquired a reputation for arrogant aloofness, took six days to speak out over the affair. He shrugged off the case as “a storm in a teacup” and dared those who criticised his handling of the case to “come and get him” . Meanwhile, the French media continued to reveal details of Benalla’s extensive access to the Élysée, the French parliament and the police. A more serious threat to Macron’s presidency’s came later in the year in the form of the “Yellow Vest” movement. PRINCE HARRY AND MEGHAN MARKLE WEDDING Prince Harry married American actress Meghan Markle at St George’s Chapel in Windsor in a service noted for its modernity and diversity on May 19. Markleentered the chapel alone and was walked partway down the aisle by Prince Charles. American Reverend Michael Curry gave a rousing sermon , referencing Martin Luther King Jr. and African-American spirituals on the power of love, and a Gospel choir sang […]