- British politicians have summoned the suspended CEO of Cambridge Analytica, Alexander Nix, to explain contradictions around whether his firm used Facebook data to target voters.
- Nix told MPs in February that the firm does not use or hold Facebook data.
- But that was belied by reports last week that Cambridge Analytica had illegitimately access millions of Facebook profiles through an app intended for search.
British politicians have summoned the suspended CEO of Cambridge Analytica, Alexander Nix, to explain why he keeps contradicting himself about the way his firm used Facebook data.
Damian Collins, the Conservative politician overseeing a select committee enquiry into fake news, wrote to Nix: “[There] are a number of inconsistencies in your evidence to us of 27 February, notably your denial that your company received data from the Global Science Research company. We are also interested in asking you again about your claim that you “do not work with Facebook data, and […] do not have Facebook data.”
He added: “Giving false statements to a select committee is a very serious matter. We urge you to come forward and explain your comments…”
Nix last appeared at the fake news select committee enquiry in February, mostly to explain – or not explain – how Cambridge Analytica was involved in 2016’s Leave.EU campaign.
But he also denied earlier media reports that the firm had used Facebook data to show voters highly targeted political advertising, both for the US presidential election in 2016 and during the Brexit vote.
At the time, he said: “We do not work with Facebook data, and we do not have Facebook data. We do use Facebook as a platform to advertise, as do all brands and most agencies, or all agencies, I should say. We use Facebook as a means to gather [opinion] data. We roll out surveys on Facebook that the public can engage with if they elect to.”
He later added: “People are not giving us consent and Facebook does not have a mechanism that allows third parties such as us to access its data on its customers.”
In other words, Nix explicitly denied that Cambridge Analytica took data belonging to Facebook users without their consent.
But his evidence is now contradicted by reports last week that Cambridge Analytica did access 50 million profiles without consent, by buying the data from an academic researcher which gathered the information through a Facebook app. The revelations caused an uproar: Facebook has banned Cambridge Analytica from its platform while it investigates, its CEO Mark Zuckerberg has apologised publicly, and Nix was suspended from his role.
It’s certain that Nix will be asked to explain the inconsistencies in his evidence if he agrees to appear before the committee.
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