Dr. Aleksandr Kogan, the psychology academic who created the app which was used to amass the data of 50 million users, says Facebook and Cambridge Analytica is merely using him as a “scapegoat”.
Dr. Kogan allegedly worked for the British firm in 2014 but had denied having an idea that Cambridge Analytica had an ulterior motive behind the gathered data. His aim of creating the app was to model human behaviour via social media, and he was assured by the London-based firm that every process was legal. He said:
“The events of the past week have been a total shell shock, and my view is that I’m basically used as a scapegoat by both Facebook and Cambridge Analytica when … we thought we were doing something really normal. We were assured by Cambridge Analytica that everything was perfectly legal and within the terms of service.”
Facebook has come out to say that the psychologic academic breached the site’s regulations.
Christopher Wylie, Cambridge Analytica whistleblower, said that the harvested data of 50 million users were collated from a personality survey created by the university researcher. The study was able to amass data of about 270,000 users, including users’ friends. This happened in 2014.
An app on Facebook had invited users to discover their personality type, designed to amass data of users and their friends who participated in the quiz. The whistleblower, Mr. Wylie insists that the harvested 50 million data of users were gathered without an appropriate consent and were sold to the British firm which they further used to target their audiences in favour of Donald Trump during the 2016 election in the US.
Dr. Kogan regrets that he didn’t ask further questions to be sure he was threading the right path. “One of the greatest mistakes I did here was I just didn’t ask enough questions.”
Nevertheless, Facebook has limited the amount of information that app can gather via this medium.
In a recorded, leaked video that featured the firm’s chief executive, Alexander Nix, he was heard saying that Cambridge Analytica ran the election with appropriate targeting which allowed the Republican candidate to amass 40,000 votes in three states. “We did all the research, all the data, all the analytics, all the targeting; we ran all the digital campaign, the television campaign and our data informed all the strategy,” he said.
Despite the revelations, Facebook and Cambridge Analytica maintain that they have done nothing illegal.
Facebook says that the data was collected legally, but the British firm refused to delete it when asked to. Dr. Kogan, on the other hand, was prohibited from transferring the collated information to a third party who would use it for commercial reasons, adding that sharing user’s data outside the platform is against the site’s policies.