Facebook says it has suspended the account of Cambridge Analytica, the data analysis firm that helped Donald Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign, for failing to delete user data.
Also suspended were the accounts of its parent organization, Strategic Communication Laboratories, as well as those of University of Cambridge psychologist Aleksandr Kogan and Christopher Wylie, who runs Eunoia Technologies.
“In 2015, we learned that … 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,” Facebook said in a posting late Friday by its vice president and deputy general counsel Paul Grewal.
Kogan also improperly shared the data with Wylie, it said.
Kogan’s app, thisisyourdigitallife, offered a personality prediction test, describing itself on Facebook as “a research app used by psychologists”.
Some 270,000 people downloaded the app, allowing Kogan to access information such as the city listed on their profile, or content they had liked.
Kogan legitimately obtained the information, but he “violated platform policies” by passing information SCL/Cambridge Analytica and Wylie.
Facebook, which did not say how the data was used or misused, said it removed the app in 2015 when it learned of the violation, and was told by Kogan and everyone who received the data that it had since been destroyed.
“Several days ago, we received reports that, contrary to the certifications we were given, not all data was deleted,” Grewal wrote.
“We are moving aggressively to determine the accuracy of these claims. If true, this is another unacceptable violation of trust and the commitments they made.
“We are suspending SCL/Cambridge Analytica, Wylie and Kogan from Facebook, pending further information.”
Cambridge Analytica, the US unit of British behavioral marketing firm SCL, rose to prominence as the firm that the pro-Brexit group Leave.EU hired for data gathering and audience-targeting.
Cambridge Analytica is largely owned by the wealthy, secretive and deeply conservative Robert Mercer, a major Trump supporter, according to US media reports.