The Cambridge Analytica scandal Facebook is presently enduring spans more than just a single online quiz app that has so far been reported as leveraged for harvesting data on up to 87 million users in 2014, according to one Brittney Kaiser, a former employee of the political consulting firm which testified in front of a British parliamentary committee regarding online misinformation campaigns earlier today. While the This Is Your Digital Life app developed by researcher Aleksandr Kogan was the one that led to the controversy in the first place, abusing Facebook logins to mine data on some 270,000 people who used it and doing the same to tens of millions of their unsuspecting Facebook friends, the company has been pursuing similar projects with at least two other app quizzes called Music Personality and Sex Compass, Ms. Kaiser testified.
The witness said she wasn’t aware of any other apps outside of those three used by her former employer but noted that the business model in question wasn’t something unique to Cambridge Analytica before Facebook outlawed the practice of sharing any data gathered on its platform with third parties. Christopher Wylie, another former Cambridge Analytica employee, previously testified that the improperly obtained data mined by Mr. Kogan’s app was intended to be used for the purpose of political microtargeting but the extent to which the company actually fulfilled its initial goals remains unclear, with some industry sources so far expressing skepticism regarding the effectiveness of the firm’s “psychographics” technologies. Last month, Mr. Kogan argued he’s being used as a scapegoat, having said the data firm convinced him what they’re doing is a standard industry practice and not in any way unethical.
Cambridge Analytica insists it never used the 2014 data while working for the Trump campaign during the 2016 presidential election like Mr. Wylie alleged in March. Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg spent over ten hours being grilled by U.S. lawmakers over the matter last week but declined to show up to a similar voluntary hearing in the UK, with a Facebook spokesperson previously suggesting his Capitol Hill testimony should provide answers to many questions from regulators all over the world. The two congressional hearings he attended ultimately revealed little, with Mr. Zuckerberg largely using them as yet another opportunity to publicly state Facebook will do better to protect the privacy of its users and be more responsible in general moving forward.