CNBC and the New York Times report on a whistleblower that was banned from Facebook on Sunday and the background of his allegations regarding the collection and retention of data from Facebook users without their consent. Christopher Wylie was the co-founder of Cambridge Analytica and revealed that the firm held on to 50 million people’s Facebook data without their consent. Cambridge Analytica worked on advertisements for President Donald Trump during his 2016 campaign. The firm received its initial funding from conservative billionaire Robert Mercer and was led by Steve Bannon.
Data was initially acquired through an app created by Dr. Aleksandr Kogan called “thisisyourdigitallife.” The app prompted users to answer questions to create a psychological profile. The data was allegedly supposed to be used for academic purposes. Allegedly, Dr. Kogan then shared the data from these surveys with Cambridge Analytica without the users’ consent. Facebook was allegedly under the impression that this data had been deleted back in 2015-16 after it blocked Dr. Kogan’s app.
Cambridge Analytica then used this data, which included vast amounts of social media activity, usage, and trends to inform its work creating advertisements for President Trump’s campaign in 2016. For his part Wylie said of the leaders of Cambridge Analytica “Rules don’t matter for them. For them, this is a war, and it’s all fair.” He further elaborated that the leaders “want to fight a culture war in America.”
The programs employed by Cambridge Analytica were focused on using personality traits to target advertisements. The acquisition of data easily from Dr. Kogan through Facebook was a cheap and effective method for creating the personality profiles. Cambridge Analytica stated on Saturday that it “fully complies with Facebook’s terms of service and is currently in touch with Facebook…in order to resolve this matter as quickly as possible.”
* * *If you would like more information or would like to speak to a member of Constantine Cannon’s whistleblower lawyer team, please click here.