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Facebook, online political advertising under fire following Cambridge Analytica data breach

Facebook, online political advertising under fire following Cambridge Analytica data breach

The data research team that worked with Donald Trump's election team harvested more than 50 million Facebook accounts to build an algorithm capable of predicting choices at the ballot box, according to a whistleblower.

Cambridge Analytica later certified in 2015 that it had destroyed the information it had received, according to Facebook, although the social network said it received reports "several days ago" that not all the data was deleted.

The British probe is part of a broader inquiry into how political parties, data companies and social media platforms use personal information to target voters during political campaigns, including Britain's 2016 Brexit referendum on European Union membership.

'What we desperately need is for Facebook to finally open up and be as honest and transparent as it can be about the way that their platform was used and manipulated during the USA presidential elections, during Brexit in the U.K.,' Cadwalladr said.

A slide presentation prepared for the Lukoil pitch focuses first on election disruption strategies used by Cambridge Analytica's parent company, SCL, in Nigeria.

The Guardian reporter Carole Cadwalladr, who broke the bombshell story on Saturday, told CBSN that Facebook threatened to sue her publication in a bid to prevent their exposé on its users' data being harvested from being published.

She said "any criminal and civil enforcement actions arising from the investigation will be pursued vigorously". It acknowledged obtaining user data in violation of Facebook policies, but blamed a middleman contractor for the problem.

However, the app also collected the information of the test-takers' Facebook friends, leading to the accumulation of a data pool tens of millions-strong, the Observer said.

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. The firm said none of Kogan's data was used in its 2016 election work for the "avoidance of doubt".

Wylie says he helped found Cambridge Analytica but has since left the organisation.

"The claim that this is a data breach is completely false", Paul Grewal, Vice President and Deputy General Counsel at Facebook said on Saturday.

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

The incident has sparked fresh concerns about the users' privacy online and prompted calls from regulators to introduce more stringent data protection measures.

Now, Facebook critics have called for both regulation of digital social platforms such as Facebook, and an investigation into the data practices of Mark Zuckerberg's company. "That was the basis the entire company was built on", Christopher Wylie, who worked with a Cambridge University academic to obtain the data, told the Observer.

The American data analysis firm - which is not associated with the famous British university - is well known for the role it played in President Trump's election campaign, where it provided intricate data on the thoughts of American voters. Aleksandr Kogan requested and gained access to information from users who chose to sign up to his app, and everyone involved gave their consent.

Kogan was reportedly able to create more than 50 million profiles using the trend and characteristics data before providing them to Cambridge. Notably, Trump's former presidential advisor Steve Bannon was on its board of directors.

Longtime back Facebook executive, Andrew Bosworth tweeted that it wasn't an unequivocally data breach, people choose in sharing their data with the third party apps and anyhow if those third party apps ignored to follow the data deals with them or users it is a case of violation.

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


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