IT TURNS OUT that Facebook was suspicious of what Cambridge Analytica was up to before the first data-snaffling story was ever published. Not a great look for a company that tried to sue The Guardian before the full explosive expose was published.
This wasn't even in 2018 when whistleblower Christopher Wylie blew the lid on the whole thing. It dates back to 2015, when Cambridge Analytica was referenced in an email chain exposed via a court filing from Washington DC's attorney general.
The filing opposed a motion from Facebook to seal a document because of its commercial sensitivity. Inside was an email exchange between senior managers proving they were aware of Cambridge Analytica's "improper data-gathering practices" back in September 2015. The Guardian's first piece on the Cambridge Analytica was published three months later in a piece on forgettable Republican presidential candidate Ted Cruz using the service to… limited effect.
Damian Collins MP - parliament's Facebook chaser in chief - suggested this could have significance in a tweet shortly after publication:
But Facebook disputes that it ever misled anyone about the scandal. "Facebook absolutely did not mislead anyone about this timeline," a company spokesperson said.
"In September 2015 employees heard speculation that Cambridge Analytica was scraping data, something that is unfortunately common for any internet service," the spokesperson continued. "In December 2015, we first learned through media reports that [Aleksandr] Kogan sold data to Cambridge Analytica, and we took action. Those were two different things."
It's just over a year ago that the Cambridge Analytica scandal fully blew up, and Facebook will have been hoping it would have gone away by now. Given that the company was forced to deny a 2016 meeting Wylie just a few days ago, it looks like this story has no plans of dying any time soon. µ
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