Insights & Analyses

Cambridge Analytica goes adios: Controversial data collection firm closes in wake of Facebook scandal

May 2, 2018

Data analysis firm Cambridge Analytica, which used voter data collected from Facebook to help influence the 2016 U.S. presidential election, officially shut down on Wednesday, just after yet another scandal rocked the company.

Citing a person familiar with the matter, The Wall Street Journal reported on Wednesday that Cambridge Analytica is no more, and employees have been told to turn in their computers.

The dramatic turn comes after a video was released showing suspended CEO Alexander Nix boasting about entrapping political opponents with bribes and sex.

Previously, the company was accused of improperly collecting and using data from Facebook while it worked for the campaign of President Donald Trump. The social network has attempted to distance itself from Cambridge Analytica, saying the company improperly accessed the private data of millions of users and used it to target ads on the network.

Facebook does, however, plan to require identity and location verification to purchased political ads on its site, in response to both Cambridge Analytica, as well as the “fake news” that played a part in the 2016 election. Before this fall’s 2018 midterm elections, advertisers will need to be authorized in order tor un “political or issue ads,” and both the name of the company and their location will be disclosed to Facebook. Further, political ads on Facebook will be labeled, and who paid for them will be identified to end users.

OWI Take: The closure of Cambridge Analytica is the latest in a string of consequences stemming from the 2016 U.S. presidential election. Following Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg’s testimony before Congress, and invitations for him to do the same in the U.K. and Europe, it’s likely that more changes are to come. The mistakes of both Cambridge Analytica and Facebook should serve as a warning to anyone handling sensitive personally identifiable information.