In a startling revelation, it’s just been discovered that Facebook still employs one of the two researchers responsible for the harvesting of data from tens of millions of users and selling it to Cambridge Analytica, according to reports. The researcher, Joseph Chancellor, is now working at Facebook’s headquarters in Menlo Park, Calif., as an in-house psychologist.
Prior to his Facebook employment, Chancellor was a co-director of Global Science Research (GSR) with Aleksandr Kogan. GSR is the same company that created a personality app that was purported to be academic research, but in fact, was designed to elicit personal information that was then shared with Cambridge Analytica. He began working at Facebook in late 2015, shortly after leaving GSR. By the time he left GSR, the company had acquired personal data on millions of Facebook users.
According to The Guardian, “Chancellor is working as a researcher at Facebook’s headquarters in California, where psychologists frequently conduct research and experiments using the company’s vast trove of data on more than 2 billion users.”
“It is not known how much Chancellor knew of the operation to harvest the data of more than 50 million Facebook users and pass their information on to the company that went on to run data analytics for Donald Trump’s presidential campaign,” The Guardian reported.
Facebook recently announced it had suspended both Kogan and Cambridge Analytica from using the platform, pending an investigation, but made no mention of Chancellor.
Facebook explained that Kogan “gained access to this information in a legitimate way and through the proper channels” but “did not subsequently abide by our rules” because he passed the information on to third parties. Kogan maintains that he did nothing illegal and had a “close working relationship” with Facebook. But Facebook has made no comments about GSR.
The Guardian reported that they asked Facebook a number of questions about its employment of Chancellor and whether the company took any action as a result of the data harvesting scam conducted by GSR.
“Facebook initially promised to respond to a set of questions by Sunday, but then said it had nothing to say on the matter. Chancellor did not respond to repeated requests for comment,” according to The Guardian.
Chancellor is 38 and is thought to have been a junior partner to Kogan. However, both Kogan and Chancellor were listed as directors of GSR.
Because the app also collected data from the friends of those who were taking the test, Facebook estimates the number affected to be 87 million. The company indicated that the number could go higher.
The Guardian was the newspaper responsible for breaking the original story of this data breach. When Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg and Sheryl Sandberg did their apology press tour, The Guardian was one paper they refused to meet with.
Taken together with the other revelation that Facebook board member Peter Thiel has an association with Cambridge Analytica, it appears that Mark Zuckerberg has not been completely forthcoming about Facebook’s relationship with Cambridge Analytica.