Facebook is up against Cambridge Analytica, a data analytics company based in the U.K. The social media company announced it is suspending Cambridge Analytica from its site for fraudulently collecting data used by the Trump campaign in 2016.
Cambridge Analytica openly admitted to helping the “Trump campaign pull off its narrow win in key swing states,” ThinkProgress reported, from Facebook to psychologically profile millions of American voters with targeted messages tailored to persuade them to vote for Donald Trump in the 2016 presidential election.
But, a New York Times investigation, uncovered that Cambridge Analytica obtained the information fraudulently – Cambridge Analytica “harvested private information from the Facebook profiles of more than 50 million users without their permission making it one of the largest data leaks in the social network’s history.”
“We are suspending Strategic Communication Laboratories (SCL), including their political data analytics firm, Cambridge Analytica, from Facebook,” Facebook said in a statement on its website. “Given the public prominence of this organization, we want to take a moment to explain how we came to this decision and why.”
In 2015, Facebook became aware of a user, Dr. Aleksandr Kogan, a psychology professor at the University of Cambridge, who violated the social media site’s Platform Policies because he was “passing data from an app that was using Facebook Login to SCL/Cambridge Analytica,” Paul Grewal, Facebook VP and deputy general, said in a statement. Facebook immediately removed the app used by the Russian-American academic from its site and “demanded certifications from Kogan and all parties he had given data to that the information had been destroyed. Cambridge Analytica, Kogan and Christopher Wylie, former research director at Campbridge Analytica, all certified to us that they destroyed the data,” Grewal said.
In a statement issued by Facebook on March 16, it stated:
“Several days ago, we received reports that, contrary to the certifications we were given, not all data was deleted. We are moving aggressively to determine the accuracy of these claims. If true, this is another unacceptable violation of trust and the commitments they made. We are suspending SCL/Cambridge Analytica, Wylie and Kogan from Facebook, pending further information.”
Grewal accused Cambridge Analytical of running “a scam and a fraud” on its site because, from “interviews with a half-dozen former employees and contractors, and a review of the firm’s emails and documents,” the Times, in conjunction with The Observer of London, “revealed that Cambridge not only relied on the private Facebook data, but still possesses most or all of the trove.” The Times viewed “a set of raw data from the profiles Cambridge Analytica obtained,” ThinkProgress reported.
In an updated statement released by Facebook on March 17, the site said:
“The claim that this is a data breach is completely false. Aleksandr Kogan requested and gained access to information from users who chose to sign up to his app, and everyone involved gave their consent. People knowingly provided their information, no systems were infiltrated, and no passwords or sensitive pieces of information were stolen or hacked.”
What the data theft did for the Trump campaign, which the campaign paid millions of dollars to Cambridge Analytica starting in June 2016, was it “allowed the company to exploit the private social media activity of a huge swath of the American electorate,” the Times investigation concluded.
Cambridge Analytica also used the micro-targeting in real time to help advise the Trump campaign as to the states he should visit in the final months of his campaign and the words to use that would “resonate” with voters in those regions.
While Cambridge Analytica is currently under special investigation by Robert Mueller because of suspected connections to Russia interference with the U.S.’ 2016 elections, this newly obtained information brings light to the role Cambridge Analytica played in helping the Trump campaign get Donald Trump elected as the forty-fifth president of the United States of America.