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Facebook data scandal: Academics refused to carry out ‘unethical’ Cambridge Analytica research

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Wall Street Journal columnist Andy Kessler on the revelations that more than 50 million user profiles were harvested by a data-analysis firm by President Trump’s 2016 campaign.

Two Cambridge University scientists with expertise in the use of Facebook data for scientific research claim that they were approached by marketing Cambridge Analytica to work with the company, but refused on ethical grounds.

David Stillwell, deputy director of The Psychometrics Centre of the University of Cambridge in the united kingdom, is known for his research and expertise in harnessing the power of big data through social media, in particular with myPersonality project.

The personality quiz began on Facebook in June 2007, when the social network had a much smaller pool of users. It was worked by fellow Cambridge-expert Michal Kosinski, and it was a success-garnering more than 8 million respondents, and the help of psychologists with their research.

David Stillwell, left, and Michael Kosinski reportedly refused to work with Cambridge Analytica, on ethical grounds.

(Cambridge University/Twitter)

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Fellow at the University of Cambridge academic Aleksandr Kogan introduced the two men in 2014 to Strategic Communication Laboratories (SCL), the parent company of Cambridge Analytica, which proposed providing funds to Kogan, the company for the collection of new data of Facebook users.

Stillwell and Kosinski told Sky News they refused this arrangement, and concerns have been raised about the study with the University of Cambridge. They provide an e-mail thread to the British news organization, detailing Kosinski’s concerns about the proposal.

Kosinski wrote: “in my opinion, his approach is very unethical, but I’m not sure if it’s worth the trouble to stir, before his plans actually materialized (e.g., he will receive the contract).”

Facebook has full-page ads signed by Mark Zuckerberg, in the BRITISH newspapers today to apologise for the #CambridgeAnalytica scandal.

The sentence “You’ll need more than that my little hombre” comes to mind. pic.twitter.com/v0zyEuTFh9

— Matt Navarra (@MattNavarra) March 25, 2018

“There is a big chance that he will understand his ways or just not to get it anyway,” Kosinski said.

Facebook is reeling in the face of accusations that it is not doing enough to prevent 50 million users’ data is being harvested without their permission, and later allegedly used to micro-target voters by the Trump campaign.

The company has apologized, and recently with full-page newspaper ads in the U.S. and U. K.. It has also seen that some advertisers objections, and CEO Mark Zuckerberg has been called to testify before lawmakers in Washington, D. C., something that he has said that he would be open.

FACEBOOK CEO TAKES THE FULL PAGE ADS TO APOLOGIZE FOR THE DATA-MINING SCANDAL

Cambridge Analytica says that it will delete the data as soon as was asked to by Facebook and that it did nothing wrong. Facebook has promised to do a full audit of the apps on the platform to determine how they treat user information.

“I hope that our character is supported by the evidence that we do not continue with the project, and that we raised our concerns with the university as soon as it became clear what Dr. Kogan scheduled to do so,” Stillwell told Sky News.

Kogan has no recent public comments, but has previously stated that he feels that he is being turned into a scapegoat.

Christopher Carbone is a reporter for FoxNews.com. Follow him on Twitter @christocarbone.

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