WTF Is Cambridge Analyatica? Details About How One Underground Company Might Have Swayed The Election.
By: Dana Phillips
This Tuesday, Cambridge Analytica Company CEO Alexander Nix was put on immediate suspension following accusations of him discussing bribery and embedment. The CEO of Facebook Mark Zuckerberg has also been summoned by a parliamentary committee to discuss evidence about Cambridge Analytica abuse of users personal data. The analytical company is accused of harvesting data from over 50 million users and failing to delete the data afterward, as well as harvesting data without consent.
The Cambridge Analytic company is best known for collecting analytical date in aid to the 2016 Trump campaign; it is a private London based company that combines data mining and data analysis with strategic communication for the electoral process. The company has denied all claims of their involvement. However, whistleblower Christopher Wylie, who worked for Cambridge Analytica has stated otherwise. Wylie claims that a personality quiz on Facebook titled "This is your digital life" was used to collect data from over 250,000 people. Yet 50 million users had information from their profiles harvested based on friend networks, this information was taken without the user's knowledge. Wylie explicitly said the data was taken then sold to the company which allowed Cambridge Analytic to produce a pro-Trump advertisement network for them in order to influence them for the 2016 election.
Damian Collins, the chairman of the Commons inquiry into fake news, accused Facebook in the past for giving misleading answers to the committee. A demanded to hear from a senior executive in order to get answers was prevalent. As the CEO and founder Zuckerburg was asked to respond to the letter by March 26th with an honest response to the accusations. The involvement of Facebook came after Information Commissioner Elizabeth Denham said she would be applying to the court for a warrant to search the offices of Cambridge Analytica. The firm was adamant about insisting they followed the correct protocol and followed the law and realm of collecting data. Facebooks shares have since fallen by 5% since and a total of 50 billion dollars has been excluded from its market value. The US Federal Trade Commission has reportedly also launched an investigation into Facebook to include larger charges.
According to White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders President Trump, unsurprisingly said he welcomes the investigation because the United States deserves their information to be protected. Trump lost the popular vote by over 3million votes but secured the electoral vote which boils down to analytics. Alex Tayler, the chief data officer for Cambridge Analytica stated, "When you think about the fact that Donald Trump lost the popular vote by 3 million votes, but won the Electoral College, that's down to the data and the research," Tayler said. "That's how he won the election". It will be interesting to see what involvement Facebook and Cambridge had in reference to the campaign and its overall outcome.