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Cambridge Analytica suspends CEO amid Facebook data scandal

ANI | Updated: Mar 21, 2018 03:45 IST

Washington D.C. [U.S.A.], March 21 (ANI): Cambridge Analytica, the political data firm with ties to United States President Donald Trump's 2016 election campaign, suspended its chief executive, Alexander Nix, on Tuesday, amid a furor over the access it gained to private information on more than 50 million Facebook users.

The decision came after a television broadcast for Britain's Channel 4 News, in which Nix suggested unseemly practices to influence foreign elections on record, according to The New York Times.

Announcing the chief executive's suspension, the company said in a statement that "in the view of the board, Nix's recent comments secretly recorded by Channel 4 and other allegations do not represent the values or operations of the firm and his suspension reflects the seriousness with which we view this violation".

Meanwhile, Facebook said that it is "outraged" by the misuse of data by Cambridge Analytica, according to local media reports.

The Lonon-based company, founded by Stephen K. Bannon and Robert Mercer, a wealthy Republican donor who has put at least USD 15 million into it, offered tools that could identify the personalities of American voters and influence their behavior.

So-called psychographic modeling techniques, which were built in part with the data harvested from Facebook, underpinned the company's work for the Trump campaign in 2016.

Nix called the practice "our secret sauce", although some have questioned its effectiveness of this method.

A joint investigation by The New York Times and The Observer of London, details the company's acquisition and use of this Facebook data.

Further, a British television news report also cast the company in a harsh light, showing a video of Cambridge Analytica executives, offering to entrap politicians.

In the video, Nix, sitting in a hotel bar, suggested ideas for a prospective client looking for help in a foreign election.

The firm could send an attractive woman to seduce a rival candidate and secretly videotape the encounter, Nix said, or send someone posing as a wealthy land developer to pass a bribe.

"We have a long history of working behind the scenes," Nix says in the video.

The prospective client, though, was actually a reporter from Channel 4 News in Britain, and the encounter was secretly filmed as part of a monthslong investigation into Cambridge Analytica. (ANI)