Cambridge Analytica shuts down, calls Facebook controversy ‘unfounded’

The company at the centre of Facebook Inc.’s recent privacy scandal is shutting down.

In a Wednesday press release, London, U.K.-based Cambridge Analytica announced that it had “filed applications to commence insolvency proceedings in the U.K.” and was “immediately ceasing all operations.”

The company added that certain U.S. affiliates, including the New York-based division hired in 2016 by then-candidate Donald Trump’s campaign team, would be shutting down as well.

In its statement the company, whose founder Aleksandr Kogan called Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg a hypocrite in a recent interview with CNBC, was unrepetant about its role in the scandal, which erupted after it was revealed the company may have harvested the data of up to 87 million Facebook users through online quizzes they or their friends may have taken.

“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 statement read, noting that a U.K. official had conducted an independent investigation into whether the company’s activities had illegally supported Trump and concluded the allegations were not “borne out by the facts.”

“Despite Cambridge Analytica’s unwavering confidence that its employees have acted ethically and lawfully, which view is now fully supported by [the official’s] report, the siege of media coverage has driven away virtually all of the Company’s customers and suppliers,” the statement read. “As a result, it has been determined that it is no longer viable to continue operating the business, which left Cambridge Analytica with no realistic alternative to placing the Company into administration.”

“While this decision was extremely painful for Cambridge Analytica’s leaders, they recognize that it is all the more difficult for the Company’s dedicated employees who learned today that they likely would be losing their jobs as a result of the damage caused to the business by the unfairly negative media coverage,” the statement continued.

Though Zuckerberg was slow to address the controversy over Cambridge Analytica’s data collection at first, he eventually issued a mea culpa through Facebook, accompanied by a media tour, and this week at the company’s F8 developer conference promised to allow users to erase collected data, and prevent marketers from collecting it again in the future.

It’s worth noting that despite the apocalyptic language of Cambridge Analytica’s statements, U.K. reports indicate that another “data processing” business, Emerdata Ltd., has been registered at the same address as Cambridge parent company SCL Elections, with Emerdata and Cambridge Analytica sharing several managers and investors.

Regardless of its future activities, Facebook’s Zuckerberg has repeatedly emphasized that a new Cambridge Analytica could not duplicate its predecessor’s controversial actions, as the social networking giant updated its privacy policy to prevent app developers from having access to user data without express consent in 2014.

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Eric Emin Wood
Eric Emin Wood
Former editor of turned consultant with public relations firm Porter Novelli. When not writing for the tech industry enjoys photography, movies, travelling, the Oxford comma, and will talk your ear off about animation if you give him an opening.

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