NEWS25 April 2018

Researcher in Facebook scandal questioned in parliament

Data analytics News North America Privacy Technology UK

UK – Aleksandr Kogan, the Cambridge University researcher at the centre of the Facebook and Cambridge Analytica alleged data misuse scandal, has said the work he did was worth “literally nothing” to Facebook.

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Kogan worked with Cambridge Analytica in 2014 to develop a Facebook personality survey app called ‘This is your Digital Life’. Facebook has said that the personal data of as many as 87 million users may have been improperly shared with Cambridge Analytica. 

Kogan told the parliament’s Digital, Culture, Media and Sport committee yesterday ( 24 April) that the dataset he compiled would be of little use to Facebook for targeted advertising purposes, according to Reuters.

He said: “Quite frankly, if the goal is micro-targeting using Facebook ads, (the project) makes no sense. It’s not what you would do.” He added that the social network had better tools for such purposes and that the work was worth “literally nothing”.

“If the use case you have is Facebook ads, it’s just incompetent to do it this way.”

In written evidence to parliament, Kogan said his academic work was reviewed and approved by Cambridge University. However, correspondence published by the Guardian shows that the university’s ethics committee rejected a 2015 proposal from him, saying that Facebook’s approach to consent “falls far below the ethical expectations of the university”.