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Facebook suspends account tied to Trump campaign

By Sommer Brokaw

March 17 (UPI) -- Facebook has suspended the account of a company that ran data for President Donald Trump's campaign.

Paul Grewal, Facebook's vice president and deputy general counsel, released a statement on Friday saying that Cambridge Analytica's account was suspended given its "public prominence." The data analytics firm boasts of its work for Trump's presidential campaign, along with other Republican campaigns, on its website.

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Grewal said that the account was suspended because University of Cambridge Psychology Professor Dr. Aleksandr Kogan "lied to us and violated our Platform Policies."

While the information Kogan gained from what was billed on Facebook as an "app used by psychologists" -- such as information users had liked on their profile -- was legitimate, Grewal said Kogan crossed a line when he forwarded that information to third party organization Cambridge Analytica. Kogan had also passed information on to Analytica's parent company, Strategic Communications Laboratories, as well as Christopher Wylie of Eunoia Technologies, who helped found Analytica.

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Facebook learned of the violation in 2015 and "demanded certification from Kogan and all parties he had given data to that the information has been destroyed." However, Facebook recently received reports that the information hadn't actually been deleted, leading to the account's suspension.

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A Cambridge Analytica representative told CNN "we had not knowingly breached any of Facebook's terms of service," and stated the company had a signed statement confirming the data in question had been deleted. No data from Kogan's Global Science Research company "was used by Cambridge Analytica as part of the services it provided to the Donald Trump 2016 presidential campaign," the representative said.

The New York Times reported Analytica has collected more than 50 million Facebook users' private information without permission, amounting to one of the website's largest-ever data leaks. The leak allowed the firm to utilize private social media activity from a large sampling of U.S. voters during the 2016 campaign, the Times said.

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"This was a scam -- and a fraud," Grewal told the New York Times. "We will take whatever steps are necessary to see the data in question is deleted once and for all -- and take action against the offending parties."

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