CAMBRIDGE ANALYTICA CEO Alexander Nix has been suspended after a second Channel 4 report showed him claiming credit for the election of Donald Trump.
The report, which aired on Tuesday, saw Nix boasting of running the "digital campaign" for Trump's election team, helping him to secure "tens of thousands" of votes in three crucial states. He also admitted to using encrypted email service ProtonMail to proactively delete potential evidence.
Shortly after the report aired, Cambridge Analytica announced in a statement that Nix would be suspended pending a "full, independent investigation".
"In the view of the board, Mr Nix's recent comments secretly recorded by Channel 4 and other allegations do not represent the values or operations of the firm and his suspension reflects the seriousness with which we view this violation," the company said.
"We have asked Dr Alexander Tayler to serve as acting CEO while an independent investigation is launched to review those comments and allegations."
Tayler is the chief data scientist at SCL Group, Cambridge Analytica's parent company, where Nix still serves as director.
In a separate statement, Cambridge Analytica said it was cooperating with the ICO, which this week obtained an urgent warrant to access the company's servers.
"Since early last year we have subsequently cooperated with the ICO on multiple lines of enquiry," the firm said, despite the ICO's claims that it had received no response from Cambridge Analytica.
Meanwhile, in Silicon Valley, Zuckerberg has yet to come out of hiding, despite being summoned by UK parliament to give evidence over the "catastrophic failure of process" behind the Cambridge Analytica data breach.
Facebook issued a statement claiming that "Mark, Sheryl and their teams are working around the clock to get all the facts and take the appropriate action moving forward because they understand the seriousness of this issue."
It added that "the entire company is outraged we were deceived," despite claims that Facebook knew about the "unprecedented" data harvesting by late-2015.
Things are going from bad to worse for the company too, as Brian Acton, co-founder of WhatsApp (which was, er, acquired by Facebook in 2014) joining the #deletefacebook movement on Twitter.
Facebook, so far, has lost around $50bn since news of the data breach broke over the weekend, and with both the ICO and US Federal Trade Commission (FTC) launching investigations into the firm, it's losses are probably going to get a lot worse.
20/3/18: The Information Commissioner's Office (ICO) is seeking an urgent warrant to access the servers of Cambridge Analytica, which allegedly used data mined from 50 million Facebook users to influence 2016's presidential election.
Information Commissioner Elizabeth Denham confirmed the move to Channel 4, which on Monday aired a documentary (below) that showed Cambridge Analytics execs - including CEO Alexander Nix - boasting about entrapping politicians, using honey traps and running fake news campaigns.
"We need to get in there, we need to look at the databases, we need to look at the servers and understand how data was processed or deleted by Cambridge Analytica," Denham said.
Denham also demanded that Facebook halt a data audit of Cambridge Analytica, saying it could prejudice her investigation.
Security consultants from Stroz Friedberg, who had been called in by Facebook to do the audit, were in Cambridge Analytica's London offices on Monday but were ordered to leave by the ICO.
Many have questioned Facebook's motives, with culture select committee chair, Damian Collins telling the BBC: "Facebook sent in data analysts and lawyers who they appointed, what they intended to do there, who knows?
"The concern would have been, were they removing information or evidence which could have been vital to the investigation? It's right they stood down but it's astonishing they were there in the first place."
In response to Channel 4's extraordinary documentary, Cambridge Analytics said, seemingly without any sense of irony: "Assessing the legality and reputational risks associated with new projects is critical for us, and we routinely undertake conversations with prospective clients to try to tease out any unethical or illegal intentions.
"The two Cambridge Analytica executives at the meeting humoured these questions and actively encouraged the prospective client to disclose his intentions."
While things could get much worse for Facebook - with CEO Mark Zuckerberg yet to come out of hiding since the scandal first broke over the weekend - it was also reported on Monday that the firm's chief information security officer Alex Stamos will leave the social networking giant by August.
The New York Times reports that Stamos "disagreed" with other Facebook execs over the company's approach to Russian influence campaigns. Stamos had "advocated more disclosure around Russian interference of the platform and some restructuring to better address the issues", the NYT reports, but was met with resistance by colleagues.
In a Twitter post, Stamos confirmed that his "role did change," but that he's also still "fully engaged" with work at Facebook. He didn't definitively say whether or not he was leaving the company.
19/3/18: Data crunching firm Cambridge Analytica has been suspended from Facebook amid claims it illegally harvested data from 50 million users without their consent.
Through his company Global Science Research, in collaboration with Cambridge Analytica, Kogan built an app called 'thisisyourdigitallife' that paid hundreds of thousands of Facebook users to take a personality test and agree to have their data collected for academic use.
The app, however, also collected the information of the test-takers' Facebook friends, something allowed by Facebook until 2015, which lead to the accumulation of a data pool "tens of millions-strong".
Kogan, who worked with Wylie to obtain the data, then sold the information to Cambridge Analytica, according to The Observer, a move that went against Facebook's 'platform policy' that only allowed for the collection of friends' data to improve the user experience.
"We exploited Facebook to harvest millions of people's profiles. And built models to exploit what we knew about them and target their inner demons. That was the basis the entire company was built on," Wylie, former research director at Cambridge Analytica, said.
This data was then turned into information used by the likes of Steve Bannon and the Donald Trump Campaign to "micro-target" individuals based on shared characteristics.
The Observer describes this as one of Facebook's "biggest ever data breaches" with the stolen information used "to build a powerful software program to predict and influence choices at the ballot box".
Documents seen by the newspaper show that Facebook knew about the "unprecedented" data harvesting by late-2015, but failed to alert users and took only "limited steps" to recover and secure the private information.
In response to the revelations, Facebook announced that it was suspending Cambridge Analytica and Kogan from the platform, pending further information over misuse of data.
Cambridge Analytica has denied any wrongdoing and says that its parent company Strategic Communication Laboratories [SCL] hired Kogan to undertake "a large-scale research project in the US", none of which was used in the firm's 2016 election work.
Facebook said in a statement that "the claim that this is a data breach is completely false". It added: "Aleksandr Kogan requested and gained access to information from users who chose to sign up to his app, and everyone involved gave their consent.
"People knowingly provided their information, no systems were infiltrated, and no passwords or sensitive pieces of information were stolen or hacked."
That isn't going to stop the firm from facing investigations, though, with both the Electoral Commission and Information Commissioner's Office announcing on Saturday that they would be looking into whether Facebook data had been "illegally acquired and used".
Information Commissioner Elizabeth Denham said: "We are investigating the circumstances in which Facebook data may have been illegally acquired and used.
"It's part of our ongoing investigation into the use of data analytics for political purposes which was launched to consider how political parties and campaigns, data analytics companies and social media platforms in the UK are using and analysing people's personal information to micro-target voters."
In the US, Massachusetts attorney general Maura Healey also announced her office is opening an investigation into the social networking site. µ
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