Facebook: Academic claims he is being used as scapegoat by social network

Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg has been called on to explain the company's data protection procedures to MPs in person

Founder Mark Zuckerberg was called on to explain the company's data protection procedures to MPs in person

Wednesday, March 21, 2018

The academic who developed an app used by Cambridge Analytica to harvest millions of Facebook users' data has claimed he has been made a "scapegoat" in the row.

Psychologist Dr Aleksandr Kogan insisted he believed what he was doing was "perfectly legal and within the terms of service" of the social network.

Cambridge University academic Dr Kogan developed a personality survey called This Is Your Digital Life.

Data on around 270,000 users was collected, but the app also gathered some public information from users' friends - and a whistleblower claimed details of more than 50 million people were harvested.

Facebook banned CA from using its platform on Friday and has also blocked Dr Kogan. The academic told the BBC: "My view is that I'm being basically used as a scapegoat by both Facebook and Cambridge Analytica. Honestly we thought we were acting perfectly appropriately, we thought we were doing something that was really normal."

He added: "We were assured by Cambridge Analytica that everything was perfectly legal and within the terms of service."

WhatsApp co-founder Brian Acton appeared to add his voice to critics of Facebook following the row. He tweeted: "It is time. #deletefacebook" as the hashtag trended amid growing outrage over the social media giant's links to controversial British data firm Cambridge Analytica (CA).

Along with WhatsApp co-founder Jan Koum, Acton sold the app to Facebook for 19 billion dollars (£11.4 billion) in 2014.

The entrepreneur's apparent advocacy for people to remove their profiles came as Facebook faced pressure to explain its privacy safeguards from regulators and politicians in the US and UK, while Founder Mark Zuckerberg was called on to explain the company's data protection procedures to British MPs in person.