Facebook’s scramble to clean up the Cambridge Analytica data scandal laid bare in newly published documents

Cambridge Analytica whistleblower Christopher Wylie.

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Cambridge Analytica whistleblower Christopher Wylie.
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Channel 4 News/YouTube

  • A committee of British lawmakers has published documents showing Facebook’s scramble to clean up the enormous Cambridge Analytica data scandal.
  • Key players, including the firm’s disgraced former CEO Alexander Nix, signed statements confirming they deleted the data of 87 million user profiles.
  • Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg continues to shun UK Parliament’s Digital, Culture, Media, and Sport Committee, declining to give evidence on numerous occasions.

Facebook’s scramble to clean up the enormous Cambridge Analytica data scandal has been laid bare in a series of documents published by a committee of British lawmakers.

Facebook sent the documents to UK Parliament’s Digital, Culture, Media, and Sport Committee as part of evidence for the committee’s inquiry into the Cambridge Analytica scandal, following CTO Mike Schroepfer’s appearance in front of the British politicians last month.

The paperwork shows Facebook’s efforts to ensure that Cambridge Analytica, Christopher Wylie, and Aleksandr Kogan deleted the data of 87 million users harvested by the latter through his “This Is Your Digital Life” quiz app.

Former Cambridge Analytica CEO Alexander Nix and Wylie, the man the who blew the whistle on the whole data saga, both signed fairly rudimentary documents confirming they had deleted the data.

In both cases, the confirmation was called a “certification,” and it required them to state that the “Facebook user data and Facebook user friend data… has been accounted for and permanently deleted and destroyed from both active and redundant storage that is under my direct or influential control.”

Here is Nix’s certification:

Alexander Nix by Jake Kanter on Scribd

The document is not dated, so it is not clear whether it was signed before or after reports surfaced in March this year that the Cambridge Analytica data was still circulating. Britain’s Channel 4 News obtained the cache of data from a Cambridge Analytica source despite the company protesting that it had been deleted.

This is whistleblower Wylie’s confirmation:

Christopher Wylie byJake Kanter on Scribd

Aleksandr Kogan’s agreement with Facebook

The version of Kogan’s data deletion confirmation published by British lawmakers is a little more involved. It ends with the same certification statement that Nix and Wylie signed, but it also included 15 other pages of information relating to the settlement between Kogan and Facebook in November 2016.

Aleksandr Kogan byJake Kanter on Scribd

Included within this is a confidentiality agreement, or gagging order, which prevented Kogan from discussing his settlement with Facebook when he appeared in front of the Digital, Culture, Media, and Sport Committee last month. Facebook told the committee that no money exchanged hands as part of the settlement, but it did make clear that the company could recover $25,000 (£18,500) in damages if Kogan broke the terms of the contract.

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg.

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Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg.
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Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

As part of the evidence released to the British politicians, Facebook again said CEO Mark Zuckerberg has “no plans” to travel to the UK and appear before the committee. This is despite repeated calls for him to give evidence and the issuing of a formal summons, which is a highly unusual step for a parliamentary committee.

Damian Collins, chair of Digital, Culture, Media, and Sport Committee, said on Tuesday that video link evidence would suffice. “If Mark Zuckerberg truly recognizes the ‘seriousness’ of these issues as they say they do, we would expect that he would want to appear in front of the Committee and answer questions that are of concern not only to Parliament, but Facebook’s tens of millions of users in this country,” he said.