New documents show Facebook was aware of Cambridge Analytica controversy since September 2015

Facebook knew about Cambridge Analytica collecting user profile data before the media outlets disclosed that the information is being used by a political research firm to manipulate the target voters in 2016 US elections, suggests newly released documents.

At the beginning of September 2015, the concerns were raised in internal communication over Cambridge Analytica. The documents showed Facebook employees conversing over how the policies of the company might be compromised by Cambridge Analytica and other third parties the way they were using user profile data.

Employees mentioned that they were contacting these companies to investigate how Facebook data was used. Facebook employees’ communication gave a better view of what Facebook knew and when they got to know.

CEO of Facebook, Mark Zuckerberg appeared before the Senate on April 2018 and affirmed that the company got to know about Cambridge Analytica buying user data from an app developer on Facebook in 2015. The firm was told to delete and stop using data fetched from Facebook.

In July 2019, a case was filed against Facebook in which the Securities and Exchange Commission claimed that the social media company issued a false statement publicly though it already knew about the data breach.

SEC also mentioned in the complaint that Facebook’s political advertising group was interested in investigating the Cambridge Analytica misuse of data three months before the news broke out.

Facebook clarified in a Newsroom post post that two different events related to Cambridge Analytica issue were mixed up in the document. A link was attached in the blog post to the previously leaked correspondence, which was released after a mutual decision with District of Columbia Attorney General Karl Racine.


Racine’s office issued a statement saying Americans should know when and what Facebook already knew about its weak data security. After September 2015, Facebook employees showed concern over the political partners and their passivity with the company.

When Facebook was asked to comment on this, the company referred to its blog post where it said one of the employees of the company spread a rumor from Cambridge Analytica’s rival that the analytics firm was scraping public data of users.

According to Facebook, scraping is different than how Cambridge Analytica gathered data from the friends of users through a personality test developed by Aleksandr Kogan.

However, documents prove Facebook employees knew about Cambridge Analytica breaching the policies of the platform since September 2015. Employees wrote in the document about many FPPs (Facebook Platform Policies) hat third-party possibly violated.

One of the employees called this scenario of high priority while the other said they must resolve it before other media also discuss it.



Photo: Getty

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