A whistleblower has released documents bolstering claims a company at the center of the Facebook-Cambridge Analytical scandal didn't destroy user data.
A Cambridge Analytical affiliate agreed to give data harvested from millions of Facebook users to a political action committee founded by John Bolton, U.S. President Donald Trump's newly appointed national security adviser.
Whistle-blower and former Cambridge Analytical employee Christopher Wylie provided the incriminating documents and the U.K. Committee on Digital, Culture, Media and Sports Thursday released the information which included more than 120 pages of business contracts, emails and legal opinions, according to Bloomberg.
The documents revealed that a Canadian company named Aggregate IQ, which worked closely with Cambridge Analytica, had access to data from an academic who had set up an app designed to build psychological profiles of people, based in part from Facebook data.
Facebook said Aleksandr Kogan, the academic, violated its terms of service by using this information for commercial purposes, but Kogan maintains that he is being "scapegoated" by the companies involved.
Cambridge Analytica said it didn't use Facebook data from Kogan's company in the 2016 U.S. presidential campaign in a statement released Thursday and that the company had never provided Aggregate IQ with any data from Kogan's company in statement made Tuesday.
Despite these claims, the leaked data includes emails showing that SCL Group, Cambridge Analytica's U.K. affiliate, discussed with Aggregate IQ how it could provide Kogan's data, and models for how to target voters in several U.S. states based on it, to Bolton's PAC.
Despite the twists and turns of the scandals researchers are calling prophecies of Facebooks impending doom an overreaction as the aftermath of the Cambridge Analytica Facebook scandal unfolds
Security Analysts at the Forrester's ConsumerVoices research firm found that although users are acutely aware of the recent hacking and data exposure problems, most respondents said their usage didn't change as a result, according to a March 29 blog post.
Researchers said it's important to keep in mind that Facebook is one of many data breaches consumers have endured joining the ranks of Yahoo, Equifax and Target. In addition Facebook's family of Instagram, Facebook Messenger, and WhatsApp apps are still doing fine with no mass deletions as well.
“The net effect is that consumers are waking to the need to discern privacy protection capabilities in the brands they prefer,” researchers said in the post.
It's also important to keep in mind the impact that Facebook has on developing countries with 63 countries using Facebook Free Basics in 63 countries in 2017. In addition the social media giant appears to have taken positive feedback from the backlash as the company said it has implemented upgrades to improve privacy and give users more control over their data.
“We've redesigned our entire settings menu on mobile devices from top to bottom to make things easier to find. Instead of having settings spread across nearly 20 different screens, they're now accessible from a single place,” Facebook Vice President and Chief Privacy Officer (CPO) Erin Egan and Vice President and Deputy General Counsel Ashlie Beringer wrote in a blog post. “We've also cleaned up outdated settings so it's clear what information can and can't be shared with apps.”
Facebook also announced new efforts to expand its bug bounty program.