What Was the Cambridge Analytica Scandal All About?

Basically, the Cambridge Analytica Scandal, the largest leak in Facebook history, was primarily about digital consultants to the Trump campaign misusing the data of millions of people who did not consent to it. Here’s how it all went down…

In London, information was uncovered from inside Cambridge Analytica – which is a company principally owned by right-wing donor Robert Mercer and where former Trump aide Richard Bannon was a board member – proved that the firm improperly obtained data from Facebook to build voter profiles. More specifically, in 2014, Cambridge Analytica acquired personality profiles of 87 million Facebook users (primarily American voters) through a personality quiz application.

In 2015, Facebook changed its policies and asked Cambridge Analytica to delete the data. British Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) believed that Cambridge Analytica not only failed to delete that private information, but shared it with others. It was also alleged that Cambridge Analytica and its British affiliate were in cahoots with Russian Oil Giant Lukoil due to the Kremlin’s interest in data used to target American voters. Lukoil denied those claims.

Mark Zuckerberg testified before Congress that Facebook was investigating tens of thousands of apps and seemed open to some government regulation of social media technology – although neither lawmakers, nor Zuckerberg seemed sure about how exactly to do that.

Most recently, in July of 2018, the ICO fined Facebook $664,000, the maximum allowed under antiquated British data protection law, for allowing Cambridge Analytica to improperly access data. The ICO is also criminally prosecuting Cambridge Analytica’s defunct parent company.