Trump campaign data firm accused of harvesting FB data

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On the same day, the Guardian reported that in one of the tech giant's biggest ever data breaches, the data analytics firm that worked with Donald Trump's election team harvested millions of Facebook profiles of United States voters and used them to build a powerful software programme to predict and influence choices at the ballot box.

Facebook released a statement on Friday acknowledging that it learned it had been "lied to" about Cambridge Analytica and an affiliate's activities in 2015, more than two years before suspending the firm from its platform, but did not alert users at the time.

As Facebook executives wrangle on Twitter over the semantics of whether this constitutes a "breach", the result for users is the same: personal data extracted from the platform and used for a objective to which they did not consent.

It said the parent company's SCL Elections unit hired Dr Kogan to undertake "a large scale research project in the US", but subsequently deleted all data it received from Dr Kogan's company after learning that Dr Kogan had obtained data in violation of Facebook policies.

The episode is also calling attention to the fact that Kogan was able to obtain the profile information of certain friends of users who agreed to give him access to their information.

Britain's data protection authority and the MA attorney general on Saturday said they were launching investigations into the use of Facebook data. Cambridge Analytica has repeatedly denied wrongdoing or improper use of Facebook data.


The New York Times and The Guardian say Cambridge Analytica tapped the Facebook profiles of more than 50 million users without their permission.

The app is the brainchild of Cambridge-based academic Aleksandr Kogan.

"Using the RNC data was one of the best choices the campaign made". Kogan and Wylie have been suspended from Facebook along with SCL and Cambridge Analytica.

"No data from (Global Science Research) was used by Cambridge Analytica as part of the services it provided to the Donald Trump 2016 presidential campaign", the company said in a statement.

Facebook Inc's deputy general counsel, Paul Grewal, said the data had been collected through a personality prediction app called "thisisyourdigitallife". 'We are clear this is a data breach, and Facebook's denials in the face of it - their claim that it's not a data breach because nobody hacked into their system - well, failing to secure your own data, failing to see how it's being used ... that falls within the definition of a data breach.

It's a data analysis firm.


Now, Facebook critics have called for both regulation of digital social platforms such as Facebook, and an investigation into the data practices of Mark Zuckerberg's company.

On Sunday morning, British lawmaker Damian Collins, who has been leading an investigation into political influence in which officials from Cambridge Analytica and Facebook have testified, suggested that neither company has been sufficiently forthcoming.

Cambridge Analytica CEO Alexander Nix was previously questioned by British politicians on his company's role in Brexit at the Trump campaign. Aleksandr Kogan requested and gained access to information from users who chose to sign up to his app, and everyone involved gave their consent.

Nuala O'Connor, president of the Centre for Democracy & Technology, an advocacy group in Washington, DC, said Facebook was relying on the good will of decent people rather than preparing for intentional misuse. Approximately 270,000 people downloaded the app.

"They say "trust us".

The initiative, which commenced in 2014, had secured information of more than 50 million Facebook users by the end of 2015, according to documents seen by The Observer, with The New York Times reporting that copies of the data can still be found online. Cambridge Analytica, Kogan and Wylie all certified to us that they destroyed the data.


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