Facebook has shared its first reactions to a developing data scandal which threatens to engulf the social network following media reports alleging that user data from 50m US Facebook profiles had been harvested by Cambridge Analytica – a London-based data analytics firm which worked on both the Trump election campaign and Brexit vote.
Vice president of marketing Carolyn Everson admitted that she was ‘outraged and beyond disturbed’ by the reports while addressing the ShopTalk retail conference, adding: “If the allegations are true, this is an incredible violation of everything that we stand for.”
Everson’s words dovetail with mounting pressure from authorities in both the US and EU, keen to shine a spotlight on the firm’s data procedures amidst the revelation that the UK Information Commissioner was seeking a warrant to seize databases and servers used by Cambridge Analytica.
This followed reports that Facebook’s head of security Alex Stamos intends to quit his post amidst irreconcilable disagreements over how the company handles disinformation. Stamos came under fire for publicly disagreeing that the Cambridge Analytica stories amounted to a ‘breach’ in a series of hastily deleted tweets.
Reports in the New York Times and the Guardian suggest that Cambridge Analytica received the illicit data in 2015 from a Russian-American researcher and had never deleted the data despite claiming that it had done so.
Facebook is still dealing with the fallout associated with an admission that ‘inauthentic’ Russian accounts spent a combined $100k attempting to influence the last US presidential election.