Aleksandr Kogan, a psychology professor who designed an app that helped Cambridge Analytica harvest the data of millions of Facebook profiles, has expressed regret and apologized for his role in the Facebook-Cambridge Analytica Scandal. The issue came to light last month when it was reported widely that a data analytics firm by the name of Cambridge Analytica had illegally harvested the data of over 87 million Facebook users.
Most of those users are in the United States, and it is believed that the harvested data was used to collect information on the likes and dislikes of users, as well as their Facebook usage patterns. This information was then used to push targeted ads to these users, particularly political ads that could have been used to illegally influence the outcome of the 2016 United States Presidential Election. Incumbent President Donald Trump won the election, and Cambridge Analytica had been hired by the presidential campaign.
Cambridge Analytica was founded by Robert Mercer, a Republican donor, and Stephen Bannon, who went on to be a key adviser to the current President of the United States, Donald Trump. The firm’s role in influencing the elections is therefore highly suspected, and the illegal means of data collection are being touted as a huge privacy infringement that has had serious effects on the political situation in the US. Cambridge Analytica is also believed to have worked with other political parties all over the world, as well as major organizations.
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The professor Aleksandr Kogan is at the center of the controversy, being blamed by both Cambridge Analytica and Facebook for his role in the scandal. “Back then, we thought it was fine. Right now my opinion has really been changed,” he said to the New York Times. “I think that the core idea we had — that everybody knows, and nobody cares — was wrong,” Mr. Kogan added. “For that, I am sincerely sorry.” He has also stated that he was upfront about how the data was being used, and objections were not raised by either Cambridge Analytica or Facebook.