As news indicated that more than 50 million users on Facebook had their data used by the organization without their consent, Cambridge Analytica, an internet data firm that caters to corporations and political campaigns, was at the center of controversy.
The company, used by the presidential campaign of Donald Trump, has denied wrongdoing. Facebook said, however, that they had suspended Cambridge Analytica from the social media site.
The situation between the company and Facebook has created a great deal of uncertainty, caused legislators to call for hearings, and even lowered the stock price of Facebook. Here’s what it takes you to remember.
What is Cambridge Analytica?
Established in 2013, Cambridge Analytica is a data company. The business is supported by Republican mega-donor Robert Mercer and was once touted as a high-ranking executive by Steve Bannon, the former Breitbart editor-in-chief and Trump aide.
To help political campaigns and companies, the firm specializes in using data. According to its website, Cambridge Analytica uses analysis, information integration, audience segmentation, and targeted ads as part of its political campaign division.
As one of its tools, the company boasts that it can “show you the electorate members most likely to respond to your messages and how they could act in the future.” This lets you provide prospects and backers with highly personalized experiences.
The company was hired in June 2016 by the Trump campaign. But before that, Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Tx.) also served with him.
Last year, the Daily Beast announced that the House Intelligence Committee was investigating the firm in the 2016 election as part of its investigation into Russian interference.
What happened with Cambridge Analytica and Facebook?
It started on Facebook with an app. On the social media site named ‘thisisyourdigitallife,’ Aleksandr Kogan, a professor at the University of Cambridge, created a personality test app where hundreds of thousands of users reportedly signed up for and subsequently received permission for the app to gather data on them for academic purposes.
The app went further by enabling it to evaluate the friends of those who downloaded it.
According to sources, the data found its way into Cambridge Analytica’s hands.
The initial data was lawfully obtained, but it may have crossed Facebook’s terms of service by sharing it with a third party.
We manipulated Facebook to harvest the profiles of millions of people. Cambridge Analytica whistleblower Christopher Wylie told The Observer, “and built models to exploit what we knew about them and target their inner demons.” “That was the basis on which the entire firm was built.”
In a New York Times interview, Wylie added:
“They don’t care about the rules. This is a fight for them, and it’s all fair. In America, they want to wage a culture war. The arsenal of arms to combat the cultural war was expected to be Cambridge Analytica.
Facebook heard of what happened in 2015 and demanded that the data obtained from its users be removed. The company said in mid-March, however, that Cambridge Analytica did not remove the data. Consequently, Facebook suspended the business and told them that Kogan “lied” about the essence of his job.
“We are committed to enforcing our policies vigorously to protect the information of individuals,” the organization wrote in a blog post. To see that this happens, we will take whatever measures are needed. If required, we will take legal steps to keep them liable and accountable for any unethical actions.
Cambridge Analytica has fought back against any reports of misconduct.
Cambridge Analytica did not use these Facebook data as part of the services it offered to the presidential campaign of Donald Trump; personality targeted advertisement was not performed for this client either. Since 2016, the firm has made this clear,” it wrote in a release.
What has been the blowback from the news about Cambridge Analytica?
A ton has occurred since the first accounts in the New York Times and the Observer.
Wylie, the whistleblower, and allegedly the company’s co-founder said Facebook had suspended his account in light of the story.
Wylie said in a tweet: “Suspended by Facebook.” For the whistle to blow. About what they’ve learned for two years privately.
Saying that Wylie was not a co-founder, Cambridge Analytica fought back.
On March 19, Sen. Edward Markey (D-Mass.) asked the Trade, Research and Transportation Committee of the Senate to hear on the situation.
Markey claimed that “only a fraction of users” consented to a third party for their Facebook details and argued that a decree by the Federal Trade Commission mandated Facebook to “obtain explicit permission before sharing user data.”
“The personal data of Americans online today is a valuable commodity for business and political interests alike,” Markey wrote in a letter to the committee. “As businesses seek information about the behavior of internet users to gain insights that may inform strategic decision-making, the online privacy of Americans has become increasingly vulnerable.”
The Senate Intelligence Committee has also recommended that Cambridge Analytica executives testify.
Besides, the stock price of Facebook plunged soon after the news broke.
Facebook’s stock fell almost 7 percent on March 19, to about $172 around mid-day trading.
Meanwhile, a Channel 4 News story said that Cambridge Analytica executives would gladly go to great lengths to accomplish their aims, using sex workers and bribery to try to trap politicians.
Cambridge Analytica suspended its CEO Alexander Nix on March 20 after reports surfaced of him addressing, among other things, an undercover reporter’s entrapment.
The company’s board said in a statement that it would be launching an investigation.
“In the Board’s view, Mr. Nix’s recent comments secretly recorded by Channel 4 and other allegations do not reflect the company’s values or activities, and his suspension reflects the seriousness with which we view this infringement,” the company said in a statement.
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