Cambridge Analytica tapped the Facebook profiles of more than 50 million people without their permission

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Published on Mar 19, 2018
Facebook is in the centre of yet another data-breach scandal

EVER paranoid that you’re being “watched” on social media? The latest drama surrounding Facebook probably won’t help lessen those feelings.

The social media giant is currently embroiled in the largest data scandal of its history, following allegations that Cambridge Analytica tapped the Facebook profiles of more than 50 million people without their permission.

The story was broken by The Guardian over the weekend, who reported the data may have been used to influence the outcome of the United States election in 2016.

WHAT IS CAMBRIDGE ANALYTICA?

Cambridge Analytica is a British data analysis firm that offers services to businesses and groups wanting to “change audience behaviour”.

The firm, which is owned by hedge fund billionaire Robert Mercer, says it can analyse consumer data — including social media and its own polling — in order to target people with marketing material.

It worked for both President Donald Trump’s election campaign, and the campaign of Republican Senator Ted Cruz.

OK, SO WHAT’S THE SCANDAL?

Over the weekend, The Guardian revealed that the personal data of 50 million Facebook profiles was illegally harvested by Cambridge Analytica.


It all started in 2015, when a Cambridge psychology professor named Aleksandr Kogan created an app called “thisisyourdigitallife”.

The app was a personality quiz, described by Dr Kogan as “a research app used by psychologists”.

His company Global Science Research had a deal to share this information with Cambridge Analytica.

Around 270,000 Facebook users signed up, and were paid to take personality tests which would be stored by the company.

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