Facebook and the analytics company that worked with Donald Trump’s election team, Cambridge Analytica, have come under mounting pressure, with calls for investigations and hearings to explain a vast data breach that affected tens of millions of people.
According to a new report from Reuters, U.S. and British lawmakers demanded Sunday that Facebook explain how a political data firm with links to U.S. President Donald Trump‘s 2016 campaign was able to harvest private information from more than 50 million Facebook profiles without the social network’s alerting users. The backlash forced Facebook to once again defend the way it protects user data.
Facebook suspended Cambridge Analytica from its platform on Friday, saying in a blog post that the company had learned in 2015 that user data was shared with a political data group in violation of Facebook’s terms. Facebook said they received certifications at the time that all copies of the data had been destroyed.
In a statement, Cambridge Analytica maintains “that all Facebook data and their derivatives” was deleted. It also says it did not use any of that data in its work for Trump’s campaign.
Former Cambridge Analytica employee Chris Wylie said that the company obtained information from 50 million Facebook users, using it to build psychological profiles so voters could be targeted with ads and stories.
Wylie told Britain’s Channel 4 news that the company was able to amass a huge database very quickly from an app developed by an academic that vacuumed up data from Facebook users who agreed to fill out a survey, as well as their friends and contacts – a process of which most were unaware.
Facebook shares fell more than 5 percent in early trading amid the Cambridge Analytica controversy, sliding down to $175.62 USD shortly after the opening bell on Monday.
The next few weeks represent a critical time for Facebook to reassure users and regulators about its content standards and platform security, to prevent rules that could impact its main advertising business.