Revealed: 50 million Facebook profiles harvested for Cambridge Analytica in major data breach
Whistleblower describes how firm linked to former Trump adviser Steve Bannon compiled user data to target American voters
The data analytics firm that worked with Donald Trump's election team and the winning Brexit campaign harvested millions of Facebook profiles of US voters, in one of the tech giant's biggest ever data breaches, and used them to build a powerful software program to predict and influence choices at the ballot box.
A whistleblower has revealed to the Observer how Cambridge Analytica - a company owned by the hedge fund billionaire Robert Mercer, and headed at the time by Trump's key adviser Steve Bannon - used personal information taken without authorisation in early 2014 to build a system that could profile individual US voters, in order to target them with personalised political advertisements.
There are conflicting reports about whether this was an actual breach, or if Facebook made the data available to the firm because it was an advertiser. Either way, Cambridge Analytica, which is a U.K. company, got and used the data as part of an effort to influence the U.S. election.
The question, of course, is whether their pay came from Russia, and if it did, whether hiring a U.K. company to use data it obtained outside Russia to influence an election is/was illegal.
Bill Horne Moderator