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Cambridge Analytica declares bankruptcy


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Los Angeles (Variety.com): Cambridge Analytica -- the political-analytics firm at the center of Facebook’s recent user-data scandal -- has officially filed for bankruptcy in the US.

In a filing last week, the UK-based company declared Chapter 7 bankruptcy protection in US Bankruptcy Court Southern District of New York. Cambridge Analytica listed assets in the range of $ 100,001-$ 500,000 and liabilities between $ 1 million and $ 10 million. A company files for Chapter 7 bankruptcy to liquidate its assets.

Cambridge Analytica and its parent company, SCL Elections, had said earlier this month that they would shut down after losing all their customers and partners after the Facebook revelations. Cambridge Analytica improperly obtained and used info on millions of Facebook users as part of its political-consulting work, including on behalf of Donald Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign, according to reports that first came out in mid-March.

“Over the past several months, Cambridge Analytica has been the subject of numerous unfounded accusations and, despite the company’s efforts to correct the record, has been vilified for activities that are not only legal, but also widely accepted as a standard component of online advertising in both the political and commercial arenas,” the company said in a 2 May statement.

Facebook remains in damage-control mode in the wake of Cambridge Analytica fiasco. The social giant said an internal investigation revealed that info on up to 87 million users may have been “improperly shared” with Cambridge Analytica. The data was collected in 2013 by researcher Aleksandr Kogan via a Facebook personality quiz, which was able to harvest info on up to 300,000 users’ friends; Kogan subsequently sold that data to Cambridge Analytica.

The fallout from the Cambridge Analytica case isn’t over, as industry watchers expect it to lead to the adoption of new US laws that restrict companies’ use of consumer data. This week, Facebook said it suspended 200 third-party apps that had access to large amounts of user info pending review of whether they misused that data. Facebook claims it changed its policies in 2014 to prevent apps from accessing info on users’ friends in the way that Kogan’s quiz had done.

Facebook has scrambled to respond to the Cambridge Analytica blowback, which caught the company off guard and resulted in CEO Mark Zuckerberg testifying in two US congressional hearings. The company has moved to restrict third-party apps’ access to Facebook user info and to provide easier-to-use privacy tools, among other measures.

In announcing their shutdown plans, SCL and Cambridge Analytica complained that “the siege of media coverage” about Cambridge Analytica’s use of Facebook data “has driven away virtually all of the company’s customers and suppliers. As a result, it has been determined that it is no longer viable to continue operating the business.”

 


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