- The scientist at the centre of the Facebook data scandal says it is “nonsense” that the incident helped get Donald Trump elected.
- Aleksandr Kogan said it is “not a real worry” that the data of millions of Facebook users he handed to Cambridge Analytica swung an election.
- Cambridge Analytica executives privately boasted about helping Trump win, but the firm has since said that this is “patently absurd.”
The scientist at the centre of the Facebook data scandal has said that the role the incident played in getting Donald Trump elected as US president has been overstated.
Aleksandr Kogan created the ‘This is Your Digital Life’ quiz app, which harvested 87 million Facebook user profiles, then passed this information to Cambridge Analytica, in breach of Facebook’s terms of service.
Cambridge Analytica executives were secretly filmed boasting about how the company’s targeted online propaganda machine helped secure Trump power in the 2016 election.
But Kogan told BuzzFeed that claims that Cambridge Analytica had effective behaviour prediction models were “nonsense.”
He said: “Folks are only concerned right now about the story because they think it could have swung the elections or that they can be mind controlled, and that’s not a real worry.”
Indeed, Cambridge Analytica has also been at pains to distance itself from comments made privately by former CEO Alexander Nix. After he was captured boasting about his role in Trump’s campaign by Britain’s Channel 4 News, the firm said it was “patently absurd” to suggest it won the election for Trump.
In a statement released after Kogan did a series of interviews over the weekend, Cambridge Analytica said “personality types were not used” when it worked on the Trump campaign.
Despite Kogan playing down the role his data harvesting played in US democracy, he said he was aware that it was probably going to be used by Cambridge Analytica during elections.
“I knew it was going to be for elections … And I had an understanding or a feeling that it was going to be for the Republican side,” he told CBS News.