CA also used ‘sex compass’ and other quiz apps for sucking Facebook data, says former employee

By Natasha Lomas

Brittney Kaiser, a former employee for Cambridge Analytica — who left the company in January and is today giving evidence in front of a UK parliament committee that’s investigating online misinformation — has suggested that data on far more Facebook users may have found its way into the consultancy’s hands than the up to 87M people Facebook has so far suggested had personal data compromised as a result of a personality quiz app running on its platform which was developed by an academic working with CA.

Another former CA employee, Chris Wylie, previously told the committee the company worked with professor Aleksandr Kogan to gather Facebook users’ data — via his thisisyourdigitallife quiz app — because Kogan had agreed to work on gathering and processing the data first, instead of negotiating commercial terms up front.

CA’s intent was to use Facebookers’ data for political microtargeting, according to evidence provided by Wylie.

In her written evidence to the committee Kaiser claims:

I should emphasise that the Kogan/GSR datasets and questionnaires were not the only Facebook-connected questionnaires and datasets which Cambridge Analytica used. I am aware in a general sense of a wide range of surveys which were done by CA or its partners, usually with a Facebook login – for example, the “sex compass” quiz. I do not know the specifics of these surveys or how the data was acquired or processed. But I believe it is almost certain that the number of Facebook users whose data was compromised through routes similar to that used by Kogan is much greater than 87 million; and that both Cambridge Analytica and other unconnected companies and campaigns were involved in these activities.

Asked to expand on this point during today’s hearing, Kaiser said Cambridge Analytica’s internal creative, psychology and data science teams worked together to design questionnaires for deploying on Facebook’s platform.

“I am aware now of what the questionnaire was that professor Kogan used, although I didn’t know about it when I joined the company. But I would see questionnaires — for example there was one called the ‘Sex Compass’ to find out what your personal preferences were privately. And then there was another one on your ‘Music Personality’,” she told the committee.

“In my pitches I used to give examples even to clients that if you go on Facebook and you see these viral personality quizzes — not all of them would have been designed by Cambridge Analytica/SCL Group or our affiliates but that these applications were designed specifically to harvest data from individuals, using Facebook as the tool.”

“I know at least of those two examples,” she added. “Therefore it can be inferred or implied that there were many additional individuals as opposed to just the ones, through Aleksandr Kogan’s test, whose data may have been compromised.”

Committee chair Damian Collins asked Kaiser whether the viral app approach to harvesting Facebook data, which CA had developed …read more

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