Wednesday, 05 May, 2021


Cambridge Analytica researcher fires back at Facebook

Facebook Image Courtesy of Gizmodo
Bennie Garza | 23 April, 2018, 19:07

Cambridge Analytica has said it was told that Kogan's app complied with Facebook's own rules.

Aleksandr Kogan, the University of Cambridge psychology professor who harvested data from Facebook and sold it to Cambridge Analytica, apologized for a tactic that has spawned the wrath of internet users worldwide.

The University of Cambridge lecturer told CBS's 60 Minutes he was "sincerely sorry" for the data mining, but insisted there was a widespread belief that users knew their data was being sold and shared.

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg pointed a finger at Kogan during his congressional testimony last week, accusing the psychologist of violating his agreement with Facebook by selling the data to Cambridge Analytica. "Because if the truth is told, and this is pretty usual and normal, it's a much bigger problem", he said in the interview to 60 Minutes.

"The way it works is if you're using an app and I'm your friend, the app can say, "Hey, Lesley, we want to get your data for use in this app, and we also want to get your friends" data.' If you say, 'I will allow that, ' then the app gets my data, too". The firm's role in influencing the elections is therefore highly suspected, and the illegal means of data collection are being touted as a huge privacy infringement that has had serious effects on the political situation in the US.

Facebook has said that those who took the quiz were told that their data would be used only for academic purposes, claiming that it and its users were misled.

The belief in Silicon Valley and certainly our belief at that point was that the general public must be aware that their data is being sold and shared and used to advertise to them. And it's been changed in particular because I think that core idea that we had - that everybody knows and nobody cares - was fundamentally flawed. And so if that idea is wrong, then what we did was not right and was not wise. His app's terms of service stipulated users' permission to disseminate, transfer or sell their data, though it was in breach with the social network's developer policy, the academic said. Never heard a word.

However, the furore raised after the scandal became public shows that people do care.

Most of those users are in the United States, and it is believed that the harvested data was used to collect information on the likes and dislikes of users, as well as their Facebook usage patterns.

Aleksandr is eager to set the record straight. The company has also said that none of the information was used in its work for the election. Facebook later said the number was closer to 87 million. And they'll let you know if you do anything wrong.

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