- Senator Maria Cantwell tried to get answers from Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg about the role secretive data mining company Palantir may have played in the Facebook/Cambridge Analytica scandal.
- News reports said that Palantir was a player that helped CA gather data on Facebook.
- Zuckerberg said during Congressional testimony on Tuesday that he didn’t know about that.
- It was a surprising admission given the close ties Facebook has with Palantir’s founder, Peter Thiel, who is a Facebook board member.
“Do you think Palantir ever scraped data from Facebook?” She asked. Zuckerberg, looked nonplussed and answered. “Senator, I’m not aware of that.”
She asked, “Do you know who Palantir is?” Zuckerberg admitted that he did. And he should.
Palantir is a company that was founded by his early investor and long-time board member Peter Thiel. Thiel was such a big supporter of Donald Trump’s presidential run, that he lauded Trump’s nomination at the Republican National Convention in 2016.
She asked if Palantir worked with Cambridge Analytica and Zuck said he didn’t know.
And then she offered this burn: “Some people have referred to them as Stanford Analytica.”
What was that about?
As the Cambridge Analytica scandal unfolded, a strange and strong link was discovered by several news outlets worldwide, including Das Magazin, about the link between the famously secretive data mining company Palantir and Cambridge Analytica. Palantir is based in Palo Alto, in the shadow of Stanford University and the university is the incubator of tech companies and tech founders including itself and Facebook.
Last month the New York Times reported that Palantir and a daughter of the former Google chairman Eric Schmidt had connections to Cambridge Analytica’s misuse of Facebook user information.
Emails from Schmidt’s daughter Sophie once suggested that Cambridge Analytica’s parent company work with Palantir. Cambridge Analytica reportedly later developed a relationship with a Palantir staffer that produced the idea to harvest Facebook user data.
It seems that Zuck should be made aware if a company founded by his board member was involved in the scandal that brought him to face the music in the Senate, and may lead to regulation of Facebook and the internet industry. But, for now, he says he isn’t.
More on Zuckerberg’s blockbuster hearing:
- Business Insider’s live blog of the entire hearing
- Zuckerberg hinted that Facebook could offer a paid version one day
- Zuckerberg says AI won’t be able to reliably detect hate speech for ‘five to 10’ years
- Zuckerberg says Mueller’s office has interviewed Facebook employees in the Russia investigation
- Zuckerberg just renounced a core piece of Silicon Valley wisdom – and it could come back to bite Facebook
- Zuckerberg will not be under oath during his Senate hearing, but will still have a ‘legal obligation to testify truthfully’
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