Facebook Inc. said on Friday it was suspending consulting firm Strategic Communication Laboratories (SCL) and its political data analytics firm Cambridge Analytica after it found they had violated its policies.
Facebook said in a statement that it learned in 2015 that a psychology professor at the University of Cambridge, Aleksandr Kogan, “lied to us and violated our Platform Policies by passing data from an app that was using Facebook Login to SCL/Cambridge Analytica, which does political, government and military work around the globe. He also passed that data to Christopher Wylie of Eunoia Technologies, Inc.”
The company said Kogan billed his app on Facebook as “a research app used by psychologists.” About 270,000 people downloaded the app, and in so doing, gave their consent for Kogan to access information such as the city they set on their profile or content they had liked, as well as more limited information about friends who had their privacy settings set to allow it.
Facebook said Kogan gained access to the information “in a legitimate way” but “he did not subsequently abide by our rules,” saying that by passing on information to a third party, including SCL/Cambridge Analytica and Wylie of Eunoia, “he violated our platform policies.”
Facebook said it removed Kogan’s app when it learned of the violation in 2015 and asked for certification from Kogan and all parties he had given data to that the information had been destroyed.
Although Cambridge Analytica, Kogan and Wylie certified that they had destroyed the data, Facebook said it found out several days ago that not all data was deleted. Facebook said it is investigating to determine the accuracy of the claims.