Cambridge Analytica, a data analysis firm that worked on President Trump's 2016 campaign, and its related company, Strategic Communications Laboratories, pilfered data on 50 million Facebook users and secretly kept it, according to two reports in The New York Times and The Guardian. The apparent misuse of Facebook data—and the social media giant's failure to police it—leave both companies with plenty still to answer for.
Facebook has suspended both Cambridge and SCL while it investigates whether both companies retained Facebook user data that had been provided by third-party researcher Aleksandr Kogan of the company Global Science Research, a violation of Facebook's terms. The suspensions were announced just hours before The New York Times and The Guardian published stories Saturday morning describing how Cambridge Analytica harvested data on 50 million US Facebook users, a number far larger than the 270,000 accounts Facebook initially cited. Facebook says it knew about the breach, but had received legally binding guarantees from the company that all of the 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," Paul Grewal, Facebook's vice president and general counsel, wrote in a blog post Friday night. Facebook is also suspending Kogan, as well as Christopher Wylie of Eunoia Technologies, the whistleblower who led to stories in The Guardian and The New York Times.
In a statement, a spokesperson for SCL denied the claims. "Cambridge Analytica and SCL Elections do not use or hold Facebook data," the statement read. (Cambridge is an independent company in the United States that was spun out of SCL.)
According to one source, a trove of Facebook users'