Cambridge researcher downplays his work amid Facebook data harvesting

A researcher at the centre of a scandal over the alleged misuse of the data of nearly 100 million Facebook users said on Tuesday that the work he did was not useful for micro-targeted advertisements.

Aleksandr Kogan, who worked for the University of Cambridge, is at the centre of a controversy over Cambridge Analytica’s use of millions of users’ data without their permission after it was hired by Donald Trump for his 2016 U.S. presidential election campaign.

Kogan, whose curriculum vitae includes a post-doctoral fellowship at the University of Toronto in 2011-12, said the dataset he compiled would be of little help for targeted advertising. The data he obtained would not be useful for identifying individuals, he said.

“I believe the project we did makes little to no sense if the goal is to run targeted ads on Facebook,” he said in written testimony to a U.K. parliamentary committee. “In fact, the platform’s tools provide companies a far more effective pathway to target people based on their personalities than using scores from users from our work.”

Facebook has said the personal information of about 87 million users may have been improperly shared with political consultancy Cambridge Analytica, after Kogan created a personality quiz app to collect the data.

Facebook and Cambridge Analytica have blamed Kogan for alleged data misuse, but he has said that he was being made a scapegoat by the companies for the scandal.

Cambridge Analytica will address Kogan’s remarks at a briefing.

The company is also under scrutiny over campaigning for the 2016 referendum when Britons voted to leave the European Union.

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CBC | World News