Cambridge Analytica boss to face United Kingdom government Facebook probe

Clay Curtis
March 29, 2018

Facebook announced initiatives to redesign its privacy settings Wednesday as the Cambridge Analytica data scandal continues to cloud the company's image.

Details are still emerging about how Cambridge Analytica operated but the value of "big data" has been powerfully demonstrated, creating an urgent challenge for Facebook and other tech firms.

The changes - which the website claims were "in the works for some time", - come as the Cambridge Analytica (CA) scandal and subsequent fallout saw Facebook's share price drop by 18 percent, wiping nearly $100 billion from its market value.

According to reports and recent revelations from whistle blower Christopher Wylie, Cambridge Analytica, a political consultant firm, began collecting private information about Facebook users in 2014 for political purposes, a violation of Facebook's user agreement.

The updates are explained in a company blog post published on March 28 by chief privacy officer Erin Egan and deputy general counsel Ashlie Beringer.

Wylie portrayed Cambridge Analytica and its parent company, Strategic Communication Laboratories, as totally without qualms about breaking laws and undermining democracies around the world. "We are strongly committed to protecting people's information". And built models to exploit what we knew about them and target their inner demons.

Wylie personally supported the "Leave" campaign, as he told the committee, but was troubled by what he viewed as threats to the democratic process.

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The Indian government had earlier taken note of the controversy. "So my own view is it was much more than 50 million".

Nix was suspended from his position as CEO of the controversial data company when it was alleged data from Facebook had been misused to influence the United States presidential election and the UK's Brexit referendum.

Cambridge Analytica's method, known as "psychographic microtargeting", involves pitching customised messages or advertisements to individuals based on data-mined psychological profiles.

Wylie also suggested that the Facebook data collected by Kogan could have been obtained by Russian parties, considering the psychologist was known to have made multiple trips to Russia.

Kogan developed the app to look into the personalities of American voters and influence their behavior. The scandal has hit Facebook's financial standing hard as well, with the company's stock declining in the wake of the scandal. Mark Zuckerberg also said last week that users would soon see a tool on the top of their News Feeds that will allow them to quickly revoke the permissions of third-party apps to their data. "We fight elections the way it should be contested", he said. "I've been working to understand exactly what happened and how to make sure this doesn't happen again". Also, lawmakers said that the Facebook co-founder has to appear before US Congress.

An appearance by Zuckerberg before Congress would indicate the company is bowing to pressure at home in the most serious crisis in its 14-year history. A parliamentary panel on IT has asked ministry officials to appear before it on April 6 and respond to queries on "citizens data security and privacy", BJP lawmaker and chairman of the committee Anurag Thakur said.

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