We are all aware of the Cambridge Analytica scandal and how it was used to harvest data of 87 million Facebook users. Facebook is still continuing to look into the matter even though the story has pretty much come to light.
“This doesn’t change our commitment and determination to understand exactly what happened and make sure it doesn’t happen again,” said a spokesman. “We are continuing with our investigation in cooperation with the relevant authorities.”
Cambridge Analytica has been accused of using the personal data of the millions of Facebook users in order to manipulate the result of the 2016 US presidential election. Channel 4 aired undercover footage of Alexander Nix, Cambridge Analytica’s CEO, back in March. He was giving examples of how the firm could swing elections around the world using underhand tactics.
The company still claims that it did nothing wrong. It has an extensive record of working abroad on many election campaigns, including Nigeria, Italy, and Kenya. Clarence Mitchell, a spokesman for Cambridge Analytica, referred the BBC to a statement on the firm’s website.
“Over the past several months, Cambridge Analytica has been the subject of numerous unfounded accusations and, despite the company’s efforts to correct the record, has been vilified for activities that are not only legal, but also widely accepted as a standard component of online advertising in both the political and commercial arenas,” it said.
“Despite Cambridge Analytica’s unwavering confidence that its employees have acted ethically and lawfully… the siege of media coverage has driven away virtually all of the company’s customers and suppliers. As a result, it has been determined that it is no longer viable to continue operating the business.”
The statement also mentioned that the parent company, SCL Elections, was also commencing bankruptcy proceedings. This was a cause for celebration for the people at Facebook who have been plagued with the scandal and are constantly being called out for it. However, Cambridge Analytica may be gone but it is possible that they were not alone. There might be more unpleasant discoveries as Facebook continues its audit of the apps.
The UK’s Financial Times newspaper says it has spoken to another ex-employee of Cambridge Analytica, on condition of anonymity, who said they were sure the company would emerge “in some other incarnation or guise”. The reporter who first exposed the scandals asks the public to stay vigilant.
The chair of a UK parliament committee investigating the firm’s activities also raised concerns about Cambridge Analytica and SCL Elections’ move. “They are party to very serious investigations and those investigations cannot be impeded by the closure of these companies,” said Damian Collins MP. “I think it’s absolutely vital that the closure of these companies is not used as an excuse to try and limit or restrict the ability of the authorities to investigate what they were doing.”
Alexander Nix was suspended in March after that Channel 4 News footage was aired. Only last month, Cambridge Analytica said that it only got 30 million records belonging to US citizens from the app’s creator Dr. Aleksandr Kogan and that they were not used in the US presidential election in any way. They also added that the data has been deleted since then.
One of the major investors of Cambridge Analytica is the US hedge fund billionaire Robert Mercer. It is reported that he put $15 million into the business. Mr. Mercer is also a major donor to the US Republican Party and helped Donald Trump in his election campaign.
We will have to wait for a while to see what the firm is planning for the future and what the actual motivation behind this move is.