In a District of Columbia court filing involving Cambridge Analytica, new details have come to light surrounding how much Facebook might have known about data-scraping efforts involving the firm — and when. Facebook employees reportedly made known internal concerns about the issue in September 2015, according to reports.
When Congressman Mike Doyle asked Mark Zuckerberg if the company was aware of Cambridge Analytica’s use of data on the social media platform because of a Guardian article from December 2015, however, the executive reportedly replied with a “yes” in April 2018. And the company “repeated the same line to the U.K.’s Digital, Media and Sport (DCMA) committee last year” per the report, which also indicated that Cambridge Analytica paid a developer, GSR, to extract personal data from the platform.
A spokesperson for Facebook said in a statement to the outlet, “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 [GSR’s] Kogan sold data to Cambridge Analytica, and we took action. Those were two different things.”
The news comes amid allegations that Cambridge Analytica improperly collected personal data from users of Facebook that was purportedly tapped to help elect U.S. President Donald Trump. As previously reported, the firm has made some pretty big claims — that it can develop complex models after taking raw personality data from a subset of voters.
Campaigns can then reportedly use that data to target as well as micro-target voter communities in their direction. However, the firm’s biggest and most specific claim is that it conducted this advanced voter modeling for the Trump organization during the 2016 election and that Trump was able to turn swing states such as Wisconsin and Michigan from blue to red due to the strength of those data models.