Cambridge Analytica, the British firm accused of using the private data of more than five crore Facebook users during United States President Donald Trump’s election campaign, suspended its chief executive, Alexander Nix, on Tuesday.
The move comes after more undercover recordings by Britain’s Channel4News emerged on Tuesday evening showing Nix talk about his company’s vast role in the Trump campaign. Nix also spoke of the use of a secret self-destructing email system, AFP reported.
“There’s no evidence, there’s no paper trail, there’s nothing,” he said about the system, which can delete emails two hours after they have been read.
Nix said the company’s research and analytics helped Trump win with a narrow margin of “40,000 votes” in three states, BBC reported.
Cambridge Analytica’s board of directors said it has suspended Nix with “immediate effect, pending a full, independent investigation”, but added that his comments to the channel does not “represent the values or operations of the firm”. The firm has denied any wrongdoing.
Facebook chief summoned
Meanwhile, a UK parliamentary committee has summoned Facebook chief Mark Zuckerberg in connection with the alleged data breach by Cambridge Analytica, PTI reported.
The summons to 33-year-old Zuckerberg was sent by Damian Collins, the chair of the House of Commons Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Committee. “It is now time to hear from a senior Facebook executive with the sufficient authority to give an accurate account of this catastrophic failure of process,” the letter to Zuckerberg read. “Given your commitment at the start of the new year to ‘fixing’ Facebook, I hope that this representative will be you.”
The summons to the Facebook chief came after whistleblower Christopher Wylie – who worked with Cambridge Analytica – claimed that the firm collected data through a personality quiz on the social networking site, BBC reported. He said that while 2,70,000 people took the quiz, the data of several million users in the US was accessed without their consent. Cambridge Analytica then used this data to profile people and deliver pro-Trump material to them, Wylie alleged.
Apart from using private data of million, Cambridge Analytica is also accused of using shell companies, sex workers, fake news and bribes to sway election outcomes in several countries, according to a report by the Channel4News. These claims were purportedly made by top executives to the channel’s undercover reporters.
The channel also claims to have evidence of the firm’s officials boasting about having worked in election campaigns across the world, including India.
The company’s executives purportedly told undercover reporters that they used methods including entrapping rival election candidates in fake bribery stings and hiring sex workers to seduce them. “It sounds a dreadful thing to say, but these are things that do not necessarily need to be true as long as they are believed,” Nix is heard saying in the clips.
Nix reportedly said the company found material on political opponents by sending “some girls around to the candidate’s house”, and Ukrainian girls “are very beautiful, I find that works very well”.