Facebook suspends Cambridge Analytica after an alleged violation
Data analysis company accused of improperly accessing and storing information without the user’s consent.
Following outrage over a data breach that can be exposed about 50 million Facebook accounts and have resulted in a $40 billion decline in market capitalization, the social network is for the rental of a digital forensics firm “to conduct a comprehensive audit of Cambridge Analytica.”
In a blog post on Facebook that he has been approached by the company, as well as former Cambridge Analytica contractor Christopher Wylie and current Cambridge Analytica data scientist Aleksandr Kogan to submit to the control. The Mark Zuckeberg-led company said Kogan has given verbal agreement, but added that Wylie has so far refused.
“This is part of a comprehensive internal and external evaluation that we perform to the accuracy of the claims that the Facebook data in question still exists,” Facebook said in the statement. “This is data Cambridge Analytica, SCL, Mr. Wylie, and Mr. Kogan certified Facebook had been destroyed. If this data still exists, it would be a serious violation of Facebook’s policies and is an unacceptable violation of the trust and the obligations of these groups.”
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The company added: “We are moving aggressively to determine the accuracy of these claims. We remain committed to vigorous enforcement of our policy to protect people data. We also want to be clear that today, if developers of apps that ask for certain information from people, we will conduct a robust review to identify potential violations of policy, and to assess whether the app has a lawful use of the data. We actually reject a large number of apps through this process. Kogan the app would not be allowed access to detailed friends information today.”
Domingo Guerra, co-founder and president of the security specialist Appthority, said the data leak was the thinking of the previous gaps are company has been identified, the increase of security concerns.
“Facebook has a huge responsibility to protect users and their data, as Facebook is used by millions of people all over the world,” Guerra said. “Plus, as Facebook acquired WhatsApp, they essentially acquired any gsm mobile number in the world. Even if you don’t use WhatsApp, if one of your friends have your phone number in their address book, then Facebook has that as WhatsApp harvesting each user’s address book. So, your friends can share your information/phone number, and you’ll never know.”
It is unclear at this point whether this specific breach will impact the company’s advertising business over the long term, but eMarketer analyst Debra Aho Williamson said that it is something for advertisers to be cautious about.
“This incident is not likely that advertisers are leaving Facebook, but it will get them thinking about how the data about Facebook users is treated,” Williamson told Fox News. “Facebook’s ad system is dependent on data of the user, and it has used that data to develop targeted advertising opportunities that are better than any other company can offer. If Facebook were forced to change the way it uses the data or the way the ad products work, then advertisers may be less charmed.”
The research firm said it expects worldwide ad spending on Facebook to grow from 22 percent in 2018, reaching of $48.85 billion, accounting for almost 18 percent of all global digital advertising.
The company has come under fire from lawmakers after it announced at the weekend was the suspension of Cambridge Analytica, who has ties with Donald Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign.
In Washington, the top Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee told ABC News’ “This Week” that Cambridge Analytica work deserved further investigation by the panel.
“We need to find out what we can about the eclipse of the privacy, the personal data of tens of millions of Americans,” Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Calif., said.
Schiff pointed out that the commission had just done an interview with Alexander Nix, the head of the british company. “Even then it was with a video conference on the GOP’s insistence,” he said.
In a separate statement, Schiff said Facebook must “answer important questions about the reasons why it provided private information for the user, to an academic, how they have informed users in advance of these types of data transfer, and if he can prove that the data has been destroyed. They must also answer questions about how they notified users about this breach of their personal data.”
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Sen. Jeff Flake, R-Ariz., told CNN’s “State of the Union” that it was important to find out “who knew what when?”
“This is a big deal, when you that the amount of the data,” Flake said. “And the privacy violations there are significant. So the question is, who knew? When did they know it? How long was this? And what happens to that data now?”
News of the data breach, which provided Cambridge Analytica access to 50 million accounts, sent the stock sharply in Monday trade, falling as low as $170.06, before something to recover.
The Associated Press and Fox News’ Sam Steward contributed to this report. Follow Chris Ciaccia on Twitter @Chris_Ciaccia