Facebook banned Cambridge Analytica, a company many credited for helping the Trump campaign win the presidential election, from their social media platform Friday.
Here’s why they did it
According to their statement, Facebook claimed that the company violated their policies by using data of their users from a third party.
“We are suspending Strategic Communication Laboratories (SCL), including their political data analytics firm, Cambridge Analytica, from Facebook,” the statement read. “Given the public prominence of this organization, we want to take a moment to explain how we came to this decision and why.”
“In 2015,” they continued, “we learned that a psychology professor at the University of Cambridge named Dr. Aleksandr Kogan lied to us and violated our Platform Policies by passing data from an app that was using Facebook Login to SCL/Cambridge Analytica, a firm that does political, government and military work around the globe.”
The statement goes on to explain how the data was gathered, which itself was not against their policies:
Like all app developers, Kogan requested and gained access to information from people after they chose to download his app. His app, “thisisyourdigitallife,” offered a personality prediction, and billed itself on Facebook as “a research app used by psychologists.” Approximately 270,000 people downloaded the app. In so doing, they gave their consent for Kogan to access information such as the city they set on their profile, or content they had liked, as well as more limited information about friends who had their privacy settings set to allow it.
But passing that data on to a third party, Cambridge Analytica, violated Facebook’s policies. They said that when they learned about this in 2015, they suspended the app and demanded that all the data be deleted.
Although they were assured the data was destroyed, Facebook says they have reports that this is untrue, and have thereby suspended Cambridge.
Was this data used in the political campaign?
Cambridge Analytica was hired in June 2016 to run the Trump campaign’s data operations. Former Trump aide Steve Bannon had also been a vice president of the firm. It’s unclear as of yet if the data Facebook wanted deleted was used to help Trump win the 2016 campaign.
When some suspected that the company was being investigated for possibly colluding with Russians in the election, they released a statement to Vox. “As one of the companies that played a prominent role in the election campaign, Cambridge Analytica has been asked by the House Intelligence Committee to provide it with information that might help its investigation,” the statement to Vox said.
“We believe that other organizations that worked on the campaign have been asked to do the same. CA is not under investigation, and there is no suggestion of any wrongdoing by the company,” it concluded.
Facebook, meanwhile, has been accused of configuring their algorithm in order to undermine the presence of conservative and right-wing messages and posts on their platform.