Facebook's big Cambridge Analytica problem began when former Cambridge Analytica research director Christopher Wylie came forward with evidence that his company had harvested the private data of 50 million Americans on Facebook without authorization. Cambridge Analytica said in a statement that it deleted "all Facebook data and their derivatives" and did not use any of that data in its work for President Trump's campaign, but Wylie told CNN's Don Lemon on Monday night that the company's denial doesn't make sense. Cambridge Analytica's entire business model, including algorithms and data sets, was derived from the Facebook mining, he said.
Cambridge Analytica CEO Alexander Nix was meeting with Corey Lewandowski, soon to be Trump's campaign manager, in the spring of 2015, before Trump announced his candidacy and while Cambridge Analytica was still working for Ted Cruz's campaign, Wylie said. And in 2014, "we were testing all kinds of messages and all kinds of imagery — that included images of walls, people scaling walls, we tested 'drain the swamp,' testing ideas of the 'deep state,'" he added. "And a lot of these narratives, which at the time would have seemed crazy for a mainstream candidate to run on, those were the things that we were finding that there were pockets of Americans who this really appealed to. And Steve Bannon knew that, because we were doing the research on it. And I was surprised when I saw the Trump campaign and it started, you know, talking about building walls or draining the swamp."
Wylie says Cambridge Analytica had tested Trump campaign slogans since 2014: "I was surprised when I saw the Trump campaign and it started, you know, talking about building walls or draining the swamp. And I’m remembering in my head, wait, we tested this." https://t.co/3u8JNn3DlOpic.twitter.com/7ftRpIiivI
On Thursday night, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg addressed the charges that his social network's Trending Topics feature suppresses conservative articles. In a Facebook post, Zuckerberg said he and his staff "take this report very seriously and are conducting a full investigation" into the allegations published in Gizmodo, but that "we have found no evidence that this report is true." He added that he wants to ensure that "our platform stays as open as possible," and toward that end, "in the coming weeks, I'll also be inviting leading conservatives and people from across the political spectrum to talk with me about this and share their points of view."
On Tuesday, Sen. John Thune (R-S.C.) demanded an explanation from Zuckerberg, including about how Facebook "investigates claims of politically motivated manipulation." Peter Weber