Facebook suspends more data analytics firms amid privacy scandal
MANILA, Philippines - Just a month ago, controversy erupted when Facebook first acknowledged that London-based data analytics firm, Cambridge Analytica harvested the personal information of tens of millions of its users which resulted in its suspension from the platform. Now, two more data analytics firms have reportedly been suspended. (READ: Facebook says 87 million may be affected by data privacy scandal)
Facebook first announced that it suspended Canadian-based data analytics and political consultancy firm, AggregateIQ for allegedly having worked with the parent company of Cambridge Analytica, SCL, according to The National Observer.
Christopher Wylie, the whistleblower who first broke the data scandal claims to have founded AggregateIQ while working for Cambridge Analytica.
“In light of recent reports that AggregateIQ may be affiliated with SCL and may, as a result, have improperly received (Facebook) user data, we have added them to the list of entities we have suspended," said a Facebook spokesperson.
Similar to how Cambridge Analytica supposedly influenced the 2016 US presidential election, AggregateIQ has been linked to the UK leaving the European Union.
AggregateIQ has since denied having connections with SCL, having access to any Facebook data, and any allegations of illegal activity amid ongoing investigations from the Office of the Information and Privacy Commissioner for British Columbia.
In a statement posted on its website, AggregateIQ said that it “works in full compliance within all legal and regulatory requirements in all jurisdictions where it operates.” It adds that Christopher Wylie was never even employed with the company.
Joining AggregateIQ in Facebook’s list of suspended entities is CubeYou, a data firm employing the same harvesting “tactics” as Cambridge Analytica.
According to CNBC, CubeYou has Facebook users take misleading quizzes said to be “for non-profit academic research," then sells the data it gathers to marketers. This is eerily similar to how Cambridge Analytica used research user data for political marketing.
“These are serious claims and we have suspended CubeYou from Facebook while we investigate them. If they refuse or fail our audit, their apps will be banned from Facebook," Ime Archibong, Facebook vice president of product partnerships said, thanking CNBC for leading them to the discovery of said data firm.
CubeYou boasts access to personally identifiable information (PII) including first names, last names, emails, phone numbers numbers, IP addresses, mobile IDs, browser fingerprints, and many others contained in a cached version of its website.
The social media giant is now taking extra precaution when it comes to their users’ data helping in the investigation of these issues.
“In addition, we will work with the UK ICO [Information Commissioner's Office] to ask the University of Cambridge about the development of apps in general by its Psychometrics Centre given this case and the misuse by Kogan," Archibong said. Aleksander Kogan was the researcher who created the quiz that would eventually be exploited by Cambridge Analytica. – Rappler.com