NSA whistleblower and former CIA employee Edward Snowden slammed Facebook in a Saturday tweet following the suspension of Strategic Communication Laboratories (SCL) and its political data analytics firm, Cambridge Analytica, over what Facebook says was imporoper use of collected data.
In a nutshell, in 2015 Cambridge Analytica bought data from a University of Cambridge psychology professor, Dr. Aleksandr Kogan, who had developed an app called “thisisyourdigitallife” that vacuumed up loads of information on users and their contacts. After making Kogan and Cambridge Analytica promise to delete the data the app had gathered, Facebook received reports (from sources they would not identify) which claimed that not all the data had been deleted – which led the social media giant to delete Cambridge Analytica and parent company SCL’s accounts.
“By passing information on to a third party, including SCL/Cambridge Analytica and Christopher Wylie of Eunoia Technologies, he violated our platform policies. When we learned of this violation in 2015, we removed his app from Facebook and demanded certifications from Kogan and all parties he had given data to that the information had been destroyed. Cambridge Analytica, Kogan and Wylie all certified to us that they destroyed the data.” –Facebook
Of note, Cambridge Analytica worked for Ted Cruz and Ben Carson during the 2016 election before contracting with the Trump campaign. Cruz stopped using CA after their data modeling failed to identify likely supporters.
Cambridge Analytica has vehemently denied any wrongdoing in a statement.
In response to the ban, Edward Snowden fired off two tweets on Saturday criticizing Facebook, and claimed social media companies were simply “surveillance companies” who engaged in a “successful deception” by rebranding themselves.