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Cambridge Analytica Closing Down Following Facebook Data Misuse Scandal

Abrar Al-Heeti
Cambridge Analytica is shutting down effective Wendesday. © Provided by CNET Cambridge Analytica is shutting down effective Wednesday.

 

Cambridge Analytica, a political consulting firm, is shutting down following alleged misuse of Facebook data.

In a statement, the company said its UK and US arms would enter into insolvency and bankruptcy proceedings. The shutdown, effective Wednesday, was earlier reported by The Wall Street Journal.

Cambridge Analytica is at the centre of a scandal that’s stirred up two national governments and Facebook, the world’s largest social network. Facebook banned the consultancy last month, saying it had improperly received data from as many as 87 million user profiles. The controversy prompted Congress to summon Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg to Washington for testimony last month, an appearance that made headlines around the world.

Cambridge Analytica has denied wrongdoing but said the controversy weighed on its business and forced it to close its doors.

“The siege of media coverage has driven away virtually all of the company’s customers and suppliers,” the company said in its statement. “As a result, it has been determined that it is no longer viable to continue operating the business, which left Cambridge Analytica with no realistic alternative to placing the company into administration.”

In the wake of the data-mining scandal, Zuckerberg faced more than 10 hours of hearings with three committees in the Senate and the House of Representatives. The hearings stretched over two days, during which he was grilled on everything from data privacy concerns, censorship and even how the Russian government manipulated Facebook to spread propaganda during the 2016 election.

In a statement, Facebook said it’s continuing its investigation with “relevant authorities.”

“This doesn’t change our commitment and determination to understand exactly what happened and make sure it doesn’t happen again,” a company representative said. Last week, Facebook reported a nearly 50 percent jump in sales, suggesting the biggest crisis in the company’s 14-year history has yet to take a toll.

The sudden decision to close shop marks a departure from Cambridge Analytica’s strong defence of itself. Just Monday, the company tweeted that followers should “Get the Facts Behind the Facebook Story,” adding a link to cambridgefacts.com. That site attempts to refute much of the coverage the firm has received in light of the scandal.

In March, Cambridge Analytica suspended Chief Executive Alexander Nix after he and other senior executives at the firm were caught on video saying they’d go beyond using data to hurt a client’s rival political candidate. Those tactics, Nix said in a report broadcast by the UK’s Channel 4, included entrapping politicians to influence an election’s outcome. Cambridge Analytica has ties to the Donald Trump campaign.

Neither Cambridge Analytica nor parent SCL Group immediately responded to a request for comment.

Last month, The New York Times reported that Emerdata, a new UK firm, had been created to house Cambridge Analytica and SCL Group. That, however, might not be enough to keep public scrutiny at bay, says Tim Bajarin, an analyst at Creative Strategies.

“If the principals who made these bad decisions at Cambridge Analytica just donned a new hat, I’m not sure they’ll be successful,” he said. “The fact that they made bad mistakes while they were at Cambridge Analytica — what’s going to keep them from doing that now under a new moniker?”

Also on Tuesday, Cambridge Analytica released the results of an independent investigation commissioned into whether it was involved in any wrongdoing. The investigation concluded that the allegations against Cambridge Analytica weren’t “borne out by the facts.”   (CNET)

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Facebook: I’m Sorry For Data Misuse, Zuckerberg Tells US Lawmakers |RN

Facebook Privacy Scandal Congress, Washington, USA - 10 Apr 2018
Facebook co-founder, Chairman and CEO Mark Zuckerberg arrives to testify before a combined Senate Judiciary and Commerce committee hearing in the Hart Senate Office Building on Capitol Hill. Photo: AFP

Facebook chairman Mark Zuckerberg offered apologies to US lawmakers Tuesday as he made a long-awaited appearance in a congressional hearing on the hijacking of personal data on millions of users.

Reading from his written testimony, Zuckerberg repeated a statement he had previously made, saying the misuse of data “was my mistake, and I’m sorry.”

“It will take some time to work through all of the changes we need to make, but I’m committed to getting it right,” Zuckerberg told a Senate hearing.

Zuckerberg was making his first formal appearance at a Congressional hearing, seeking to allay widespread fears ignited by the leaking of private data on tens of millions of users to a British firm working on Donald Trump’s 2016 campaign.

The scandal has sparked fresh calls for regulation of social media platforms, and Facebook in the past week has sought to stem criticism by endorsing at least one legislative proposal, which would require better labelling and disclosure on political advertising.

Senator Charles Grassley, chair of one of the committees holding the hearing, said the scandal involving the British firm Cambridge Analytica “was clearly a breach of consumer trust and a likely improper transfer of data.”

The revelation on data mishandling “has exposed that consumers may not fully understand or appreciate the extent to which their data is collected, protected, transferred, used and misused,” Grassley said.

He added that the Judiciary Committee “will hold a separate hearing exploring Cambridge and other data privacy issues.”

AFP

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Mark Zuckerberg Attacks Tim Cook Over Allegation That Facebook Trades Peoples’ Privacy For Money

Jeremy B White
Mark Zuckerberg, Tim Cook are posing for a picture          © Provided by Independent Digital News & Media Limited 

Mark Zuckerberg has hit back at Apple CEO Tim Cook for disparaging Facebook’s business model.

A critique from Mr Cook suggesting the social media platform was trading privacy for profit was “extremely glib and not at all aligned with the truth”, Mr Zuckerberg, the CEO and founder of Facebook, said in an interview with Vox.

Days earlier, excerpts emerged of an interview in which Mr Cook faulted Facebook’s reliance on attracting advertisers who can use the site’s data to precisely target customers. He praised Apple’s model of selling thoroughly vetted products as superior and suggested Mr Zuckerberg had blundered into the scandal now engulfing the company.

Mr Zuckerberg pushed back on those comments, saying he rejected the premise that “that if you’re not paying that somehow we can’t care about you”.

             © Getty 

“The reality here is that if you want to build a service that helps connect everyone in the world, then there are a lot of people who can’t afford to pay”, Mr Zuckerberg said. “And therefore, as with a lot of media, having an advertising-supported model is the only rational model that can support building this service to reach people”.

He also drew a contrast between his company’s free service and Apple’s line of high-priced products.

“If you want to build a service which is not just serving rich people, then you need to have something that people can afford”, Mr Zuckerberg said, adding that “at Facebook, we are squarely in the camp of the companies that work hard to charge you less and provide a free service that everyone can use”.

The barbs flew between the two tech executives as Mr Zuckerberg seeks to steer his company through a data privacy crisis.

After it was revealed that a third party researcher obtained some 50 million Facebook users’ personal information and passed it along to political consulting firm Cambridge Analytica, which went on to work for Donald Trump’s presidential campaign, the social media giant has faced a torrent of criticism from both elected officials and tech titans like Mr Cook.

                © Reuters 

In an interview with MSNBC’s Chris Hayes and Recode’s Kara Swisher, Mr Cook called it “creepy” to find targeted advertisements are “chasing me around the web” and said Facebook’s revenue model compromised personal privacy.

“We’ve never believed that these detailed profiles of people, that have incredibly deep personal information that is patched together from several sources, should exist”, Mr Cook said, going on to say Facebook needed to be better regulated.

Facebook has sought to tamp down a public outcry by vowing to institute tougher privacy safeguards that limit how many personal data outside apps can harvest. The company has said that, in the years since researcher Aleksandr Kogan gleaned reams of user data and shared them with Cambridge Analytica, it has tightened its rules to bar that scale of a collection.  (The Independent)

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