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Cambridge Analytica: Facebook data row academic says he is 'scapegoat'

Cambridge Analytica: Facebook data row academic says he is 'scapegoat'
From BBC - March 20, 2018

An academic who created an app which harvested data from 50 million users says he has been made "a scapegoat" for Facebook and Cambridge Analytica.

Dr Aleksandr Kogan completed work for Cambridge Analytica in 2014, but said he had no idea the data would be used to benefit Donald Trump's campaign.

The psychology academic said he wanted the data so he could model human behaviour through social media.

Facebook says Dr Kogan violated the site's policies.

The Cambridge University researcher developed a personality survey called This is Your Digital Life.

About 270,000 users' data was collected, but the app also collected some public data from users' friends.

Cambridge Analytica whistleblower Christopher Wylie said as a result the data of about 50 million users was harvested for the analysis firm.

The firm's chief executive Alexander Nix - who has since been suspended - was secretly recorded in a Channel 4 investigation saying the London-based company ran Donald Trump's digital campaign during the 2016 US election.

He said that the work the company did, including research, analytics and targeted campaigning, allowed the Republican candidate to win with a narrow margin of "40,000 votes" in three states.

"We did all the research, all the data, all the analytics, all the targeting, we ran all the digital campaign, the television campaign and our data informed all the strategy," he added.

Cambridge Analytica denies any wrong doing and on Monday said the executives had "entertained a series of ludicrous hypothetical scenarios" in order to "play along with this line of conversation, and partly to spare our 'client' from embarrassment".

'I am stunned'

But Dr Kogan said the accuracy of the dataset had been "exaggerated" by Cambridge Analytica, and said the dataset was more likely to hurt Mr Trump's campaign.

A spokesperson for Facebook said the academic was not allowed to transfer data to Cambridge Analytica, a third-party who would use the set for commercial purposes.

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