Dr Aleksandr Kogan sent a document to Facebook outlining terms which asked for permission to collect information and that the company would have the right to sell that on
Facebook was told the app which leaked data to third parties could sell on the information it obtained from users’ accounts, a damning new report has claimed.
Stunning new evidence has emerged which suggests the social media giant was sent terms and conditions for the second version of the app which ripped data which was eventually leaked to Cambridge Analytica (CA).
Facebook used an automated process to accept app updates, so no-one at the firm may have seen the new policy which revealed the app could sell data obtained from the social media network.
In the first version of the app, which was reviewed by Facebook, it said users’ data would ‘never be used for commercial purposes’.
However a document obtained by the FT, sent from Aleksandr Kogan, the academic who built the app which was used to harvest data from 50 million accounts, informed Facebook of new terms.
Kogan was hired by CA to build a personality test app called ‘thisismydigitallife’, which accessed the Facebook profiles of 280,000 Americans with their consent.
In the document sent to Facebook, Kogan’s company, Global Science Research, asked users for permission to collection information, including likes, status updates and similar data from Facebook friends.
They stated the company would have the rights to ‘edit, copy, disseminate, publish, transfer, amend or merge with other databases’.
Mr Kogan told the FT that he was ‘surprised’ that he broke Facebook’s rules, adding: ‘If they really care, then why do they do nothing to enforce it?’
In a statement, Facebook admitted their own rules in 2014 prevented it from allowing developers to sell on data from its website to other parties.
Kogan claims he has been made a ‘scapegoat’ for the scandal and accused Cambridge Analytica of ‘selling magic’ to its clients.
Dr Kogan says he had no idea his work in 2014 was used during Donald Trump’s presidential campaign and other elections.
He also revealed tens of thousands of other apps may be mining social media for personal data to be sold on.
But he added: ‘I think what CA has tried to sell is magic. It made claims that this data is incredibly accurate and it tells you everything there is to tell about you. But the reality is it’s not that. If you look at the data carefully those claims quickly fall apart’.
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But the users, who were paid around $3 each, weren’t told the information on their social media was actually being harvested for commercial gain.
CA whistleblower Christopher Wylie claims it allowed them to hijack data from 50 million users and use it to target swing voters in the 2016 US elections and also the EU referendum.
But Dr Kogan says that CA has made a fortune were peddling a ‘myth’ and that the data was more likely to hurt Trump’s campaign that help it.
He said: ‘The accuracy of this data has been extremely exaggerated. My best guess is that we were six times more likely to get everything wrong about a person than right. I think (the data) could only have hurt the Trump campaign. Or any campaign.’