Facebook Suspends Account Of Firm That Helped Get Trump Elected

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The more than 50 million profiles represented about a third of active North American Facebook users, and almost a quarter of potential USA voters, at the time, the Observer said. The Times reported Saturday: "Interviews with a half-dozen former employees and contractors, and a review of the firm's emails and documents, have revealed that Cambridge not only relied on the private Facebook data but still possesses most or all of the trove". Good. But also remember that Facebook built its entire business model on vacuuming up as much intimate information about all of us as possible and then selling it to advertisers.

"They want to fight a culture war in America", Christopher Wylie, who helped found Cambridge and worked there until late 2014, said of the company's leaders, according to the Times. If the people who downloaded the app averaged 200 "friends" each, that could lead to the collection of data on more than 50 million Facebook users.

The incident revolves around an app put on the site in 2015 by Aleksandr Kogan, a professor at the University of Cambridge, that purported to be a personality test and psychological research tool.

The app, created in November 2013, asked users for permission to access their profile information - and also that of their friends'.

Cambridge Analytica later certified in 2015 that it had destroyed the information that it received, according to Facebook, although the social network said it received reports "several days ago" that not all the data was deleted. However, they did not authorize that their data be shared with other companies, a behavior that is in violation of Facebook platform policies. At the time, the operation had been headed by Steve Bannon, who has since parted company with Mercer.

Not only was that data used for microtargeting voters, but by tracking the response to those messages in real time on social media, the firm could advise the campaign where Trump should visit and what words would resonate most with voters in the region.

"The evidence he supplied to authorities in the United Kingdom and U.S. includes a letter from Facebook's own lawyers sent to him in August 2016, asking him to destroy any data he held that had been collected", the Observer explained.

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Cambridge Analytica adds: "When it subsequently became clear that the data had not been obtained by GSR in line with Facebook's terms of service, Cambridge Analytica deleted all data received from GSR".

Facebook, whose role in the 2016 presidential election has already been widely criticized, suspended Cambridge Analytica's access to the service on Friday in light of the reports. The company claims to build psychological profiles based on personal details from millions of Americans that can categorize individual voters. Kogan and Wylie have been suspended from Facebook along with SCL and Cambridge Analytica.

Kogan was not immediately available for comment.

CNN reported that no one from the Trump campaign was copied on the email, the sources said.

The social media company also insists that this did not constitute a data breach, as users technically consented - via their privacy settings - to allow Cambridge Analytica to harvest their data.

Facebook also said on Friday that after becoming aware that "not all data was deleted", it was "moving agressively to determine that accuracy of these claims".