The university academic at the center of the Cambridge Analytica data mining scandal is suing Mark Zuckerberg for defamation after claiming Facebook used him as a ‘scapegoat’.
Cambridge University researcher Aleksandr Kogan was behind an app that helped to harvest data from up to 87 million Facebook users.
He is taking social media founder Zuckerberg to court after the company said that he had lied about how the data was going to be used.
Zuckerberg and other executives have said Kogan told them the data was for academic purposes not political campaigns.
But Kogan’s lawyer, Steve Cohen, said: ‘Alex did not lie, Alex was not a fraud, Alex did not deceive them, this was not a scam.
‘Facebook knew exactly what this app was doing, or should have known. Facebook desperately needed a scapegoat, and Alex was their scapegoat.’
Kogan is not thought to be asking for a specific amount of money in the case.
Facebook, founded by Mark Zuckerberg, left, has blamed Aleksandr Kogan, right, for misusing data, while he claims they have used him as a scapegoat
Facebook has been embroiled in scandal since revelations that data analytics firm Cambridge Analytica misused personal information from as many as 87 million Facebook accounts.
Cambridge Analytica was founded by wealthy Republican donor Robert Mercer and Trump adviser Steve Bannon.
It received the data from a Facebook personality-quiz app that former psychology professor Kogan, 32, created. That app collected data on both users and their Facebook friends.
A spokeswoman for Facebook called the lawsuit ‘frivolous’ and said it was from someone who ‘violated our policies and put people’s data at risk’.
Facebook says ‘This Is Your Digital Life’, which was downloaded by 270,000 people, also gave Kogan access to their friends’s profile data.
This was passed to British communications firm Cambridge Analytica and was used to help elect US President Donald Trump.
But the company has blamed Kogan for misusing it, while he claims they and Facebook have used him as a scapegoat.
They issued a statement saying: ‘The entire company is outraged we were deceived.’ Zuckerberg, called Kogan’s actions a ‘breach of trust’.
In a lengthy post on his Facebook page Zuckerberg added: ‘In 2015, we learned from journalists at The Guardian that Kogan had shared data from his app with Cambridge Analytica.’
The University of Cambridge lecturer told CBS’s 60 Minutes he was ‘sincerely sorry’ for the data mining, but insisted there was a widespread belief that users knew their data was being sold and shared.
‘Back then we thought it was fine… I think that core idea that we had – that everybody knows and nobody cares – was fundamentally flawed. And for that, I’m sincerely sorry,’ he said.
Billionaire Robert Mercer founded Cambridge Analytica along with Trump adviser Steve Bannon. Mercer is pictured here in 2017
WHAT IS THE CAMBRIDGE ANALYTICA SCANDAL?
Communications firm Cambridge Analytica has offices in London, New York, Washington, as well as Brazil and Malaysia.
The company boasts it can ‘find your voters and move them to action’ through data-driven campaigns and a team that includes data scientists and behavioural psychologists.
‘Within the United States alone, we have played a pivotal role in winning presidential races as well as congressional and state elections,’ with data on more than 230 million American voters, Cambridge Analytica claims on its website.
The company profited from a feature that meant apps could ask for permission to access your own data as well as the data of all your Facebook friends.
The data firm suspended its chief executive, Alexander Nix (pictured), after recordings emerged of him making a series of controversial claims, including boasts that Cambridge Analytica had a pivotal role in the election of Donald Trump
This meant the company was able to mine the information of 87 million Facebook users even though just 270,000 people gave them permission to do so.
This was designed to help them create software that can predict and influence voters’ choices at the ballot box.
The data firm suspended its chief executive, Alexander Nix, after recordings emerged of him making a series of controversial claims, including boasts that Cambridge Analytica had a pivotal role in the election of Donald Trump.
This information is said to have been used to help the Brexit campaign in the UK.