Cambridge Analytica CEO Sees Claims as Backlash to Trump Win

President of the European Parliament Antonio Tajani | Frederick Florin  AFP via Getty Images

And Ron Wyden, a senator on the committee investigating Russian interference in the 2016 United States election, has sent a letter to Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg demanding answers as well.

News reports now suggest that contrary to prior representations, Cambridge Analytica, which was hired by Jared Kushner to run Trump's data operation, had contacts with Russians, specifically a Russian energy firm.

Cambridge Analytica was funded primarily by far-right-wing billionaire Robert Mercer, who became an ardent Trump supporter after initially backing Texas Senator Ted Cruz in the 2016 presidential race, according to a profile of Mercer in The New Yorker magazine.

In response to the allegations, the social network rejected any responsibility for the development, essentially saying that what happened was in line with its policies at the time.

Revelations by two newspapers that some 50 million of its user profiles were inappropriately harvested add to a growing list of outcries over the social network's practices.

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Following this report, Zuckerberg is now being asked to provide an explanation by legislators in both the USA and the UK, The Washington Post reports. The data collection is legal, though the Federal Trade Commission requires Facebook to obtain user permission to share their data beyond their privacy settings. The legislators don't want anyone else other than the Facebook founder, either.

On Wall Street, Facebook shares skidded 7.7 per cent in midday trade amid concerns about pressure for new regulations that could hurt its business model. "What's clear is that Facebook has built up a massive intelligence tool that can be exploited by foreign actors who don't care at all if they are violating Facebook's user agreements", remarks Max Bergmann, who heads the Moscow Project at the Center for American Progress.

"This is part of a comprehensive internal and external review that we are conducting to determine the accuracy of the claims that the Facebook data in question still exists", the blog post reads. Wait two weeks after that, and then, at long last, Facebook will begin the 90 day process of deleting all your data from the site.

"We now make too many errors enforcing our policies and preventing misuse of our tools", Zuckerberg said in a Facebook post about his 2018 goals. Notably, it won't remove any of your data from Facebook's servers, and your account lies dormant hoping you will change your mind. Maybe even enough to fuel a voter-manipulation effort like the one a Trump-affiliated data-mining firm stands accused of - and which Facebook may have enabled.

Facebook makes it easy for advertisers to target users based on nuanced information about them. Kogan worked with a branch of SCL Group called SCL Elections.

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Alphabet, Google's parent company, lost nearly 3 percent and Microsoft fell nearly 2 percent.

In an interview Monday on NBC's "Today", Wylie said Cambridge Analytica aimed to "explore mental vulnerabilities of people".

"This company. was contractually committed by us to only obtain data in accordance with the UK Data Protection Act and to seek the informed consent of each respondent", the Cambridge Analytica said.

The information that is uncovered through such clandestine work is then put "into the bloodstream to the internet", said Mark Turnbull, another Cambridge executive, in an encounter in December 2015 at the Berkeley hotel in London.

Facebook seems to be shocked that people who had disreputably gathered its user data in the first place couldn't be trusted to simply delete the data when Facebook asked them to do so.

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