Cambridge Analytica suspends CEO amid uproar over Facebook data leak

Alexander Nix. Picture: Getty Images
  • The CEO of Cambridge Analytica, the political-research company at the center of a massive Facebook-data scandal, was suspended on Tuesday.
  • The company’s board said CEO Alexander Nix would remain suspended pending a “full, independent investigation” into his involvement in what he was filmed describing as entrapping politicians.

The CEO of Cambridge Analytica, the political-research company at the center of a massive Facebook-data scandal, was suspended on Tuesday.

An undercover reporter for Britain’s Channel 4 News secretly filmed the CEO, Alexander Nix, offering shadowy services to entrap politicians, as well as boasting about using online propaganda tools, including so-called psychographic modelling techniques, to help Donald Trump win the 2016 US presidential election.

The news outlet’s monthslong, multipart investigation into the company is airing this week.

“Mr. Nix’s recent comments secretly recorded by Channel 4 and other allegations do not represent the values or operations of the firm, and his suspension reflects the seriousness with which we view this violation,” the board wrote in a statement on Tuesday.

The undercover reporter, posing as a fixer for a wealthy client working to elect politicians in Sri Lanka, filmed Nix and his colleagues over four meetings from November to January.

Facebook recently suspended Cambridge Analytica over an incident involving its harvesting of data from 50 million profiles.

Cambridge Analytica – founded by Steve Bannon, the former White House chief strategist, and Robert Mercer, a top GOP donor who has sunk at least $US15 million into the company – is said to have used personal data gleaned from tens of millions of profiles to predict the behaviour of individual American voters.

The company’s board said it would launch an internal investigation into allegations of Nix’s wrongdoing and make the conclusions public. In the meantime, Alexander Tayler, the company’s chief data officer, will serve as the acting CEO.

In one exchange filmed by the undercover Channel 4 News reporter, Nix said he had met Trump “many times” and described what the firm undertook for his campaign.

“We did all the research, all the data, all the analytics, all the targeting – we ran all the digital campaign, the television campaign, and our data informed all the strategy,” Nix said.

In another conversation, Tayler argued that the firm’s work helped Trump emerge victorious.

“When you think about the fact that Donald Trump lost the popular vote by 3 million votes but won the Electoral College vote, that’s down to the data and the research,” he said.

A Cambridge Analytica spokesman told Channel 4 News: “CA has never claimed it won the election for President Trump. This is patently absurd.”

Jake Kanter contributed to this report.

NOW WATCH: Briefing videos

Business Insider Emails & Alerts

Site highlights each day to your inbox.

Follow Business Insider Australia on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Instagram.