Cambridge Analytica closing after Facebook data scandal

Cambridge Analytica, the UK data analytics firm at the centre of the Facebook data harvesting scandal, announced on Wednesday it is immediately ceasing all operations and filing for insolvency in Britain and the US, agencies report.

It is no longer viable to continue with the business, said the company accused of misusing tens of millions of Facebook users’ data for political profiling.

But Cambridge Analytica, hired by Donald Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign, denied any wrongdoing and said it was subjected to “unfounded accusations” which had destroyed its business.

It denied misusing Facebook users’ data for the election campaign of Trump following reports that it  had collected profile information via a personality prediction app.

Facebook says up to 87 million users may have had their data misused by Cambridge Analytica.  But the UK firm said it deleted data about Facebook users obtained in breach of the social network’s terms of service.

Cambridge Analytica on Wednesday posted a report on its website after conducting an investigation into the allegations. The report presented by barrister Julian Malins said none of allegations were borne out by the facts. Although Cambridge Analytica’s employees acted ethically and lawfully, the negative media coverage had driven away all of the company’s customers and suppliers, it said.

Despite the precarious financial condition, the company said it would fully meet its obligations to its employees.

Cambridge Analytica allegedly collected data from Facebook users via a personality app developed by the Cambridge University researcher, Aleksandr Kogan. The data was collected via Facebook’s permissive Graph API.

Kogan pulled Facebook users’ data and passed them to Cambridge Analytica, in breach of Facebook’s policies. He said he was not aware of what Cambridge Analytica was going to do with the personal data gathered.

Christopher Wylie, a former employee of Cambridge Analytica, said the data Kogan obtained was used by Cambridge Analytica to influence the outcome of the US presidential election and Brexit.

While Cambridge Analytica denied using the researcher’s data, Kogan said he was being used as a scapegoat by Facebook and Cambridge Analytica.

Cambridge Analytica finally found itself in a spot when its CEO Alexander Nix was suspended in late March after Britain’s Channel 4 News broadcast secret recordings in which he claimed credit for the election of  Trump. He  also bragged about how his company could swing election campaigns by using honey traps, fake news campaigns and ex-spies.