Facebook Suspends Cambridge Analytica

  • Facebook on Friday announced the suspension of several accounts including Strategic Communication Laboratories, the company in-charge of Cambridge Analytica, a firm accused of campaigning for President Uhuru Kenyatta in the 2017General Election.

    Kenyans.co.ke learnt that the suspension was issued because Cambridge Analytica received Facebook data from thousands of users in a way that violated Facebook’s guidelines.

    At the centre of the row is University of Cambridge professor Aleksandr Kogan who, according to Facebook, made a "personality app" that in fact gathered data he then sold to third parties.

    Kogan could access information such as the cities Facebook users set on their profile, content they had liked, as well as more limited information about friends who had their privacy settings set to allow it.

    [caption caption="Cambridge Analytica Chief Executive Alexander Nix"][/caption]

    The guidelines are that the data should be deleted but Kogan sold the information to Cambridge Analytica and its parent company Strategic Communications Laboratories. 

    In June last year, there was talk that Jubilee Party had acquired the services of Analytica to assess Kenyatta's chances of winning the election.

    Senior Director of Innovation and Digital Communication in the Office of the President of the Republic of Kenya Dennis Itumbi rubbished those allegations saying Kenyatta had enough talent at his disposal to conduct successful campaigns and did not need to outsource.

    He termed the allegations as, "phantom with no basis at all."

    In 2016, CA worked for the United States President Donald Trump's campaign team though there have been varied reports on the company's data analysis during that period.

    The methods of data analysis of CA are based on a profiling system using general online data, Facebook likes, and smartphone data.

    It collects data on voters using sources such as demographics, consumer behaviour, internet activity, and other public and private sources.

    Through a limited number of "likes", people can be analysed and influenced in a particular way.

    CNN reported that the company persuades one to vote for a particular candidate through tailored ads that match your personality.

    They basically ask users to take part in online surveys that categorise them into various personalities, combine the data with voting history, information about where you shop and what you buy and what you watch on television.

    [caption caption="Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg"][/caption]