- A second Cambridge Analytica whistleblower says the Facebook data fiasco affects way more than 87 million users.
- Brittany Kaiser, a former Cambridge Analytica executive, said in written testimony to British lawmakers that the firm used numerous questionnaires to gather data, including one called “Sex Compass.”
- Cambridge Analytica says data was collected with consent and limited to “tens of thousands” of Facebook users.
- Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg has repeatedly apologised for the data breach.
The data from as many as 87 million Facebook accounts obtained by Cambridge Analytica in a massive data breach was probably just the tip of the iceberg.
That’s according to the written testimony that Brittany Kaiser, Cambridge Analytica’s former business development director, gave on Tuesday to the UK Parliament’s Digital, Culture, Media, and Sport Committee.
She told British lawmakers conducting an inquiry into fake news and the Facebook data scandal that Cambridge Analytica used numerous Facebook-linked questionnaires to gather data.
Kaiser said they were in addition to a personality quiz called This Is Your Digital Life, developed by the University of Cambridge psychology professor Aleksandr Kogan, that improperly harvested the Facebook users’ data later obtained by Cambridge Analytica.
“I am aware in a general sense of a wide range of surveys which were done by CA or its partners, usually with a Facebook login,” she told the committee in the written testimony. She highlighted one quiz called “Sex Compass,” though she did not provide further details.
Kaiser also said (emphasis added):
“I believe it is almost certain that the number of Facebook users whose data was compromised through routes similar to that used by Kogan is much greater than 87 million, and that both Cambridge Analytica and other unconnected companies and campaigns were involved in these activities.”
During a hearing on Tuesday, the committee’s chairman, Damian Collins, sought to clarify the statement.
“The purpose of the survey was to gather this information, and that by completing it with your Facebook login, Cambridge Analytica also gets access to your data?” Collins asked.
“I believe that was the point of the quizzes in the first place, yes,” Kaiser replied.
Cambridge Analytica says other quizzes were small-scale
A Cambridge Analytica spokesman told Business Insider that it collected data through legitimate means and on a much smaller scale than suggested by Kaiser.
“Data collected from these quizzes were always collected under a clear statement of consent,” the spokesman said. “When members of the public logged into a quiz with their Facebook details, only their public profile information was collected.
“The volumes of users who took the quizzes numbered in the tens of thousands: Any suggestion that we collected data on the scale of GSR is incorrect. We no longer run such quizzes or hold data that was collected in this way.”
The political consulting firm has denied harvesting data from 87 million Facebook users, saying instead that it “licensed data for no more than 30 million people.”
A Facebook spokesman said: “We are currently investigating all apps that had access to large amounts of information before we changed our platform to dramatically reduce data access in 2014. We will conduct a full audit of any app with suspicious activity. And if we find developers that misused personally identifiable information, we will ban them and tell everyone affected.”
The data scandal, first exposed by the Cambridge Analytica whistleblower Christopher Wylie in The Observer last month, wiped about $US60 billion from Facebook’s value.
Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg has apologised repeatedly for the fiasco and was called to testify before Congress last week about the company’s actions and data privacy in general.