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Cambridge Analytica scammed Facebook users, FTC rules

(Image credit: Image Credit: Geralt / Pixabay)

By gathering personal information in the millions, British political consulting firm Cambridge Analytica (opens in new tab) actually scammed Facebook users. This is the confirmed ruling coming from the US Federal Trade Commission (FTC) this morning.

FTC’s unanimous opinion is that Cambridge Analytica, app developer Aleksandr Kogan, together with former Cambridge Analytica CEO Alexander Nix, teamed up to allow Kogan’s app GSRApp "to collect Facebook data from app users and their Facebook friends" through a personality-testing app.

The scam part lies in the fact that the app promised its users it wouldn’t collect personally identifiable information (PII). As we now know, the app not only collected names and other PII, but it also offered it to US political campaigns for voter profiling and microtargeting, among other things.

By scamming users, Cambridge Analytica also violated Privacy Shield, a transatlantic framework regulating the use of data. Privacy Shield forces businesses to protect EU data going across the pond.

Both Kogan and Nix decided to settle, while Cambridge Analytica kept quiet on both the complaint and the motion, which was submitted for summary judgement. According to ZDNet (opens in new tab), the company is currently under process of filing for bankruptcy.

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has fined Facebook (opens in new tab) with $5bn for the incident, after the vote went 3-2 for the fine. According to the BBC, the fine still needs to be finalised by the civil division of the Department of Justice. That may take a while, as no one really knows how long the DoJ will take.

If this really pulls through, it would mean the biggest fine the FTC has ever imposed on any tech company.

Sead Fadilpašić is a freelance tech writer and journalist with more than 17 years experience writing technology-focussed news, blogs, whitepapers, reviews, and ebooks. And his work has featured in online media outlets from all over the world, including Al Jazeera Balkans (where he was a Multimedia Journalist), Crypto News, TechRadar Pro, and IT Pro Portal, where he has written news and features for over five years. Sead's experience also includes writing for inbound marketing, where he creates technology-based content for clients from London to Singapore. Sead is a HubSpot-certified content creator.