Cambridge Analytica, a voter profiling company that worked for Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign, accessed the data of 50 million Facebook accounts illegally. The news has revealed that this was allegedly done for 2014 mid-term elections as Cambridge Analytica was the recipient of a Republican donor Robert Mercer, who invested $15 million.
The sources have revealed that over 50 million accounts were affected and to do so, only $1 million was spent. According to Christopher Wylie, a former data scientist of Cambridge Analytica, “We exploited Facebook to harvest millions of people’s profiles. And built models to exploit what we knew about them and target their inner demons. That was the basis that the entire company was built on.” The exploitation of Facebook accounts on such a huge level is known to be one of the largest data leaks in the history. Reports state that Cambridge still has access to this data. Facebook has not given any official confirmation whether this breach has occurred or not.
Cambridge Analytica has not accepted the allegations and has denied accessing Facebook’s data. They also tried to blame Aleksandr Kogan, who was a former researcher at the firm. Kogan developed an app for Cambridge which helps to indicate likes of the users on social media. This information was later used by the Trump campaign to place digital ads and fund-raising requests. This data also helped them to analyze where they should invest in the television ads.
Facebook has suspended all accounts of SCL/Cambridge Analytica, Wylie and Kogan. Paul Grewal, the company’s VP, and General Counsel said, “We will take whatever steps are required to see that the data in question is deleted once and for all — and take action against all offending parties.” It is still to be seen what kind of data was accessed and what Facebook intends to do about it.