A data analytics firm linked to both Donald Trump’s presidential campaign and the Brexit referendum has been banned by Facebook.
Cambridge Analytica, the British firm that claimed it helped Trump get elected, has been suspended from Facebook, the company revealed.
At issue is Cambridge Analytica’s use of user data obtained by a third-party developer, a University of Cambridge professor named Dr. Aleksandr Kogan. Kogan, according to Facebook, obtained information on 270,000 Facebook users via his app, which he touted as a research experiment.
But though the app itself was apparently in line with Facebook’s developer policies, what Kogan did with the data he collected wasn’t. According to Facebook’s deputy general counsel Paul Grewal, Kogan then gave the data he acquired via his app to Cambridge Analytica and another third-party company.
Facebook’s policies prohibit developers from turning user data over to third parties. Grewal says the company found out about Kogan’s actions in 2015 and removed his app and “demanded certifications from Kogan and all parties he had given data to that the information had been destroyed.”
They certified deleting user data they received from an app developer in 2015 but we have since learned that not all of it may have been removed. This is a clear violation of our policies and terms of service.
— Boz (@boztank) March 17, 2018
Everyone involved claimed they had destroyed the data, but Facebook now says they have reason to believe not all the data was actually destroyed. And they’ve banned Kogan and Cambridge Analytica while they investigate.
It’s not clear if the ban is meant to be temporary or permanent, but it’s an unprecedented move for Facebook to publicly announce such a suspension. While suspended, Cambridge Analytica and Kogan are prohibited from buying ads or run the Facebook pages of their clients.
“We are committed to vigorously enforcing our policies to protect people’s information. We will take whatever steps are required to see that this happens. We will take legal action if necessary to hold them responsible and accountable for any unlawful behavior,” Grewal wrote in a statement.