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RIP Cambridge Analytica

Paul Brislen, Editor. 03 May 2018, 7:54 am

After a disastrous month of bad publicity and collapsing sales, data-crunching firm Cambridge Analytica has closed its entire operation, but Facebook continues to go from strength to strength with the launch of a new online data service.

Cambridge Analytica found itself at the heart of the battle for the hearts and demographic data of the world's Facebook users. Apparently hired by Donald Trump's presidential election campaign team, the company reportedly accessed private data held by Facebook without explicit permission from the end users, and used that data to shape Trump's campaign, targeting advertising and "fake news" articles at susceptible readers.

Facebook exposed Cambridge Analytica's activities only after being challenged by a consortium of mainstream journalists (and only after legal threats failed to dissuade them from publishing) and founder Mark Zuckerberg was forced to spend two days explaining his company's actions to a US congressional hearing.

Cambridge Analytica has long claimed it has broken no laws and indeed didn't do anything that Facebook didn't allow in its terms and conditions. However, the UK Information Commissioner Elizabeth Denham launched a raid on the London head quarters of the company, seizing materials and documents relating to its operation, and subsequently, Cambridge Analytica says its customers and suppliers are refusing to deal with the company.

In a written statement the company says, "Over the past several months, Cambridge Analytica has been the subject of numerous unfounded accusations and, despite the Company's efforts to correct the record, has been vilified for activities that are not only legal, but also widely accepted as a standard component of online advertising in both the political and commercial arenas."

The company has filed for insolvency in the UK and is seeking bankruptcy protection in the US.

Meanwhile, Zuckerberg is refusing to appear before a UK parliamentary committee, preferring to send his chief technology officer Mike Schroepfer or chief product officer Chris Cox to appear before the Digital, Culture, Media and Sport committee.


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