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Facebook caught up in political data scandal; denies data breach

Luana PASCU

March 19, 2018

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Facebook caught up in political data scandal; denies data breach

Lawmakers from the US and Europe demand explanations from Facebook following statements that it shared user data with Cambridge Analytica, a political analytics firm linked to US President Donald Trump, while the 2016 presidential election was in full swing, writes The New York Times. By using the data to profile users, the company may have helped Trump win the presidential election.

User data was collected through an application named “thisisyourdailylife,” created by University of Cambridge psychology lecturer Dr. Aleksandr Kogan. Under the name Global Science Research (GSR), Kogan asked users to take part in a survey posing as academic research material, in exchange for a small fee. More than 270,000 users willfully took the survey, but through their profiles Kogan harvested the data of over 50 million users, who had not set their profiles to private.

According to Facebook, the data scandal is not the result of a breach.

“The claim that this is a data breach is completely false,” reads a company update from March 17, 2018, 9:50 AM. “Aleksandr Kogan requested and gained access to information from users who chose to sign up to his app, and everyone involved gave their consent. People knowingly provided their information, no systems were infiltrated, and no passwords or sensitive pieces of information were stolen or hacked.”

On Friday, Facebook also confirmed theyit became aware of the situation in 2015, following complaints from users. It removed the application from the network and asked Kogan to delete the data.

Christopher Wylie, a whistleblower and formed collaborator of Aleksandr Kogan, said the data has not been deleted and brought proof to the New York Times and the Guardian.

“Facebook could see it was happening,” said Wylie in an interview with the Guardian. “Their security protocols were triggered because Kogan”s apps were pulling this enormous amount of data, but apparently Kogan told them it was for academic use. So they were like, “Fine”. Facebook made zero effort to get the data back.”

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