British Prime Minister Theresa May has called claims that a British firm misused Facebook data to influence the U.S. election in 2016 ‘very concerning’.
Meanwhile, Facebook boss Mark Zuckerberg has responded to the breach, said his company made mistakes in mishandling the data and promising tougher steps to restrict developers access to it. CGTN’s Paul Barber reports.
U.K. data firm Cambridge Analytica was caught on tape revealing how it used data to help get Donald Trump elected U.S. president.
CEO Alexander Nix was secretly filmed by Britain’s Channel 4 News. He said his political consultancy firm influenced the tight 2016 U.S. presidential race between Trump and his opponent Hillary Clinton.
But the data used was allegedly taken from millions of Facebook accounts without the consent of users.
Alexander Nix has now been suspended, and an investigation by the U.K.’s information commissioner is underway.
On Wednesday, there was little sign of Nix or his colleagues at Cambridge Analytica’s central London headquarters.
The board of Cambridge Analytica said it was suspending Nix immediately while his actions are investigated. The company denied any wrongdoing but said that the statements Nix made that were caught on camera “do not represent the values of operations of the firm and his suspension reflects the seriousness with which” they view the violation.
British Prime Minister May denied her government had any current contracts with Cambridge Analytica or its parent company.
“The allegations are clearly very concerning and it is absolutely right that they should be properly investigated, it’s right that the information commissioner is doing exactly that, because people need to have confidence in how their personal data is being used,” May said. “And I would expect Facebook, Cambridge Analytica and all organizations involved to comply fully with the investigation that’s taking place.”
Christopher Wylie is the data scientist who blew the whistle on Cambridge Analytica’s use of Facebook data. He apologized for his role in setting up the firm.
“I made mistakes, I am regretful and I am sorry for that. But the very first thing that I have to do is tell people about it, and then the next step for me is to figure out what I can do to make good,” he said.
Journalist Peter Jukes said these revelations show democracy is being undermined through misinformation.
“People have known about micro targeting, propaganda, for quite a long time since these votes,” he explained.
“But now it’s personal, it’s our Facebook data. It’s – every time you log on, where’s it going? Who’s going to use this data? And I think, in a way, the world is waking up. We are giving away the most precious thing you can in the information age: data. Data is the new oil, free to these companies.”
Facebook is under pressure to explain why it didn’t do more once it learned about the data breach, and more revelations about Cambridge Analytica’s role in other elections around the world are expected soon.