I said months ago that Cambridge Analytica will be a MAJOR part of this entire Russian interference campagne!
Facebook’s recent suspension of Cambridge Analytica, a data analytics firm that played a key role in President Trump’s 2016 campaign, highlights the rapid rise of a company that claimed it had reached new heights in marrying the art of political persuasion with the science of big data.Four years after the company began offering Republican political candidates the promise of groundbreaking tools for delivering political messages tailored to the psychological traits of voters, serious questions remain about its tactics and effectiveness.What is clear is that the services Cambridge Analytica offered are increasingly coveted by modern political campaigns. Yet Facebook users had few indications of how their personal data was collected, refashioned and deployed on behalf of candidates.
A Cambridge University professor working for Cambridge Analytica in 2014 created an app, called Thisisyourdigitallife, that offered personality predictions and billed itself on Facebook as “a research app used by psychologists.”
The professor, a Russian American named Aleksandr Kogan, used the app to gain access to demographic information — including the names of users, their “likes,” friend lists, and other data. Once obtained by Cambridge Analytica, political campaigns could use those profiles to target users with highly tailored messages, ads or fundraising requests.
Facebook said 270,000 people downloaded the app. But people familiar with how such systems work — including a former Cambridge Analytica employee — said the app would have given Cambridge access to information on the friends of each of those people, a number that almost certainly reached into the tens of millions.
The Observer of London and the New York Times reported Saturday that Cambridge Analytica had gained access to information on 50 million Facebook users, citing internal documents and interviews with former employees and associates.
Facebook declined to confirm or deny this number. It issued a statement noting its past actions to limit access to this kind of personal information, which, until changes were made in 2014 and 2015, was routinely available about any users who did not explicitly act to prevent the release of what “like” buttons they had hit.
Facebook recently suspended Cambridge Analytica for improperly sharing the information and failing to destroy it after concerns arose in 2015.