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Furore grows over Facebook data “misuse”

Tuesday, March 20, 2018

Facebook’s links with controversial British research firm Cambridge Analytica – used by President Donald Trump during his election campaign - have come under intense scrutiny this week after reports the latter harvested the personal details of up to 50 million Facebook users. Damian Collins MP, chair of the Digital, Culture, Media & Sport Committee, said on Monday that he “will be writing to Mark Zuckerberg asking that either he or another senior executive from [Facebook] appear to give evidence” before that body.

On Tuesday morning it was announced that a warrant to search Cambridge Analytica’s HQ has been requested by the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) following the news of the apparent data breach, and in the wake of an ongoing Channel 4 investigation apparently showing the firm’s senior management claiming expertise in questionable tactics – including “honeytraps” and bribery – on the part of its political clients. The firm issued a statement saying that the programme had “grossly misrepresented” its activities.

Meanwhile Facebook – already experiencing one of the most difficult periods in its short history thanks to its apparent exploitation by elements looking to interfere in the 2016 US elections, and under intense political and media scrutiny both in the US and abroad – has suspended Cambridge Analytica’s account and announced it is hiring a digital forensic team to investigate the situation.

“This is part of a comprehensive internal and external review to determine the accuracy of the claims that the Facebook data in question still exists,” Facebook said in a statement on Monday.

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