Facebook’s data scandal, in which the now defunct political consulting firm Cambridge Analytica accessed the data on 87 million users without their consent, is getting further scrutiny by the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) and Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI).
Citing a person familiar with the matter, The Wall Street Journal reported that the SEC and FBI are joining the Justice Department and Federal Trade Commission in looking into how and why Cambridge Analytica, which was working on President Donald Trump’s election bid at the time, was able to access the data on the Facebook users without their consent. According to the report, Facebook and Cambridge Analytica have been conflicted as to what Facebook knew about how the data would be used. “We are cooperating with officials in the U.S., U.K. and beyond,” a spokesman for Facebook told the Wall Street Journal. “We’ve provided public testimony, answered questions, and pledged to continue our assistance as their work continues.”
According to The Wall Street Journal, late last week Facebook provided Congress with a document that is 747 pages long and disclosed that it has given companies special access to user data. It was the first time Facebook contrasted with what the company’s Chief Executive Mark Zuckerberg has said publicly. He had said Facebook restricted data from outside parties since 2015. Within that report, the social media giant said it granted 61 companies — including AOL, Nike, UPS and dating app Hinge — a “one-time” six-month extension to comply with its policy changes on user data. Despite saying in 2015 that it had cut off developer access to its users’ data and their friends, the company disclosed it was still sharing information of users’ friends, such as name, gender, birth date, current city or hometown, photos and page likes. In addition, five other companies “theoretically could have accessed limited friends’ data” due to access granted as part of a Facebook experiment. The SEC inquiry, noted The Wall Street Journal, could shine a light on what statements Facebook has made about the data breach with Cambridge Analytica and how it may have impacted investors.