The Facebook data scandal has deepened in the wake of an admission by an academic that he was responsible for collecting information on an unknowing public that could have swayed the Brexit referendum result.
Alekandre Kogan, a psychologist who worked at the British company Cambridge Analytica blames any rule-breaking on the firm, which he claims used Facebook data to help secure the election of Donald Trump as US president as well as the Brexit victory in 2016.
Dr Kogan said he was unaware the personal information obtained by paying Facebook users for “personality tests” might be used in election campaigns. He said that he and colleagues were assured by Cambridge Analytica that such activity was common place in the social media industry.
Amid calls in the United States, Europe and among MPs at Westminster for inquiries into the Facebook and Cambridge Analytica companies, Dr Kogan revealed that he was the key to the affair and would be prepared to give evidence to Parliament or the US Congress on his role.
“We honestly thought we were acting perfectly appropriately, “ said. “We thought we were doing something that was really normal.”
Dr Kogan claimed that the company, which is based in central London, had told him that social media platforms customarily carried out similar activities to obtain individuals’ data. “It was communicated to me that thousands, perhaps tens of thousands, of apps were doing the exact same thing and that this was a normal usage of Facebook data.”
Alexander Nix, CA’s chief executive has been suspended after appearing to admit to a Channel 4 undercover reporter that the company could entrap politicians. A spokesman for the firm said that Nix’s comments “do not the values or operations of the company”.
Mark Zuckerberg (pictured), the founder of Facebook, has been invited to appear before the Commons digital, culture, media and sport committee at Westminster.