NY professor sues Cambridge Analytica

Illustration by Alex Castro  The Verge

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 U.S. voters and used them to build a powerful software programme to predict and influence choices at the ballot box.

Lukoil, Russia's second-largest oil company, discussed with Cambridge Analytica the data company's powerful social media marketing system, which was already being deployed for Republican Ted Cruz in the US presidential primaries and was later used to back Brexit and Trump.

In a statement sent to Fortune, Cambridge Analytica claimed it had contracted Kogan and his company, Global Science Research, to obtain data only in line with Facebook's rules. Alexander Nix told the committee last month that his firm had not received data from a researcher accused of harvesting millions of Facebook users' personal information.

The New York Times reported Analytica has collected more than 50 million Facebook users' private information without permission, amounting to one of the website's largest-ever data leaks.

Cambridge Analytica indicated privately to Facebook in 2015 that it "destroyed the data" after receiving it, Facebook said Friday.

The app was downloaded by about 270,000 users who allowed access to information.

On Saturday, Facebook continued to insist that the Cambridge data collection was not a "data breach" because "everyone involved gave their consent" to share their data.

The company, Cambridge Analytica, was suspended from Facebook on Friday.

But while he was helping turn Facebook profiles into a political tool he was also an associate professor at St Petersburg State University, taking Russian government grants to fund other research into social media.

A Cambridge Analytica spokesman said GSR "was contractually committed by us to only obtain data in accordance with the UK Data Protection Act and to seek the informed consent of each respondent".

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The United Kingdom's Information Commission also announced on Saturday they are conducting an investigation of Cambridge Analytica, which also had clients in the country.

Facebook's advertising business depends on users sharing their most personal data via its social network. "She said she was appalled that Facebook did 'almost nothing" to delete or secure the data that was harvested.

A NY professor filed a legal claim against Cambridge Analytica seeking information on what the data firm learned about him, CNN reported Sunday. Notably, Trump's former presidential advisor Steve Bannon was on its board of directors.

Cambridge Analytica says it uses "behavioral microtargeting", or combining analysis of people's personalities with demographics, to predict and influence mass behavior.

Facebook has a problem it just can't kick: People keep exploiting it in ways that could sway elections, and in the worst cases even undermine democracy.

CNN reported Sunday that Carroll asked Cambridge Analytica a year ago to provide the data it had gathered on him.

Within GOP data circles, however, the company's extravagant claims about the effectiveness of Facebook data and artificial intelligence are heavily criticized.

"By passing information on to a third party, including SCL/Cambridge Analytica and Christopher Wylie of Eunoia Technologies, he violated our platform policies", Facebook said.

The suspension raises troubling new questions about Facebook's role in targeting voters during the US presidential election and how well the social media giant protects users from privacy violations from third party app developers. "Of course, they won't because discovery would show exactly how ruthless Facebook is when it comes to partners & how they treat their users".

Cambridge Analytica said in a statement that it did nothing illegal and is now in touch with Facebook.