facebook, cambridge analytica

Facebook has come under fire for harvesting the records of more than 87 million users

Facebook has come under fire after it was revealed that it had harvested personally identifiable information from up to 87 million Facebook users.

The data was then collected by Trump-affiliated firm Cambridge Analytica to influence voter opinion on behalf of politicians who hire them.

The revelations come after the Guardian’s Observer issued a series of explosive reports to expose the leak, which affected tens of thousands of users.

Cambridge Analytica claims its data and research helped Donald Trump win the US presidency.

Whistleblower Christopher Wylie, who helped set up the firm and worked with an academic Aleksandr Kogan at Cambridge University to obtain the data, said the system could profile individual voters to target them with personalised political ads.

As part of a damage limitation exercise, Facebook sent out a number of letters to the media laying out its legal case for why this data leak did not constitute a “breach”. It also announced it was suspending Cambridge Analytica from its site.

The scandal has resulted in Mark Zuckerberg being grilled by Congress as part of a number of congressional hearings.

Attorney-generals from the US states of Massachusetts and Connecticut have launched investigations into how the Facebook data was handled.

The UK Information Commissioner’s Office is also pursuing a warrant to search Cambridge Analytica’s office in London.

Recently, Channel 4 News reported that based on a secretly recorded video, Cambridge Analytica secretly stage-managed Kenya President Uhuru Kenyatta’s campaigns in the hotly contested 2013 and 2017 elections. Cambridge Analytica denied the report.

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