Future Tense is a partnership of Slate, New America, and Arizona State University that examines emerging technologies, public policy, and society. It sounds like the stuff of spy novels. A secretive company backed by an eccentric billionaire taps into sensitive data gathered by a University of Cambridge researcher. The company then works to help elect an ultranationalist presidential candidate who admires Russian President Vladimir Putin. Oh, and that Cambridge researcher, Aleksandr Kogan, worked briefly for St. Petersburg State University.
A UK-based academic whose app harvested the data of 50 million Facebook users has claimed he is being made a scapegoat by the social media company and Cambridge Analytica. Aleksandr Kogan, a psychology lecturer at Cambridge University, developed a personality app which amassed a huge cache of personal information from Facebook for the British political consultancy accused of an illegal data grab. Cambridge Analytica (CA) is alleged to have used the information to help Donald Trump's 2016 presidential campaign and on Tuesday suspended its chief executive, Alexander Nix, after he was secretly recorded boasting about the firm's pivotal role in the US election. MPs have summoned Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg to give evidence over the "catastrophic failure of process" behind the breach and have accused the social media giant of misleading Parliament about how companies acquired and held user data. Facebook, which also faces an investigation by the US Federal Trade Commission, has suspended activity for CA and Dr Kogan for violating its policies.
Controversial data mining company collected information on at least 87 million Facebook users. LONDON -- Cambridge Analytica created its own Facebook quizzes and questionnaires to collect reams of data on users using the social networking giant, according to a former senior official at the data mining company. Brittany Kaiser, the former director of program development at Cambridge Analytica, told British lawmakers on Tuesday that the company, which is at the center of a broader Facebook data scandal, widely used such practices, including a "sex compass" quiz, to garner insight on people's online habits. These data-collection strategies made it highly likely that more people's Facebook data had been collected without their knowledge than previously thought, according to Kaiser. Cambridge Analytica is already accused of using a third-party app created by Aleksandr Kogan, a Cambridge University professor, to collect online information on up to 87 million Facebook users.
Facebook said in a statement on Friday that it had learned in 2015 that a Cambridge University psychology professor had lied to the company and violated its policies by passing data to Cambridge Analytica from a psychology testing app he had built. Facebook said it suspended the firms and researchers involved.
British data analytics firm Cambridge Analytica is at the centre of controversy in the US and UK after two newspapers reported the company harvested personal data about Facebook users beginning in 2014. Best known for assisting the 2016 presidential campaign of US President Donald Trump, Cambridge Analytica is now facing a government search of its London office, questions from US state authorities, and a demand by Facebook that it submit to a forensic audit. The UK's Information Commissioner has announced she is seeking a warrant to probe the company's servers – and also that she was forced to tell Facebook to "stand down" its own enquiries after its auditors and lawyers visited Cambridge Analytica's offices. "Such a search would potentially compromise a regulatory investigation," Elizabeth Denham said. Here is some of what is known about Cambridge Analytica.