Cambridge Analytica, the British political consulting firm that was severely criticized and blamed responsible for extracting personal information from over 87 million Facebook users for ad targeting during the 2016 US Elections, announced that it was shutting down the company.
The company still claims innocence to the allegations but states that the reason for shutting down operations is due to the negative media coverage that made it lose its clientele as well as the excessive legal fees it has to pay due to the scandal it got involved in.
“Despite Cambridge Analytica’s unwavering confidence that its employees have acted ethically and lawfully, the siege of media coverage has driven away virtually all of the company’s customers and suppliers,” the company released in a statement.
“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,” it added.
The firm is at the heart of a scandal accusing it of unethically obtaining personal information from Facebook users that would be used for the benefit of political clients.
Facebook claimed, during the heat of the scandal that the data-mining political consultancy firm had harvested personal information of 87 million users from a third-party app that would be used for strategic ad targeting on social media for the benefit of political parties. In this case, Donald Trump’s Presidential campaign, although the current US President denies any association with Cambridge Analytica.
The social media giant is also making an internal investigation in the matter.
“This doesn’t change our commitment and determination to understand exactly what happened and make sure it doesn’t happen again,” a Cambridge Analytica spokesperson said.
The company revealed that its parent company, SCL Elections, would also file for bankruptcy, a move which would most probably impact its operations in India as well. The shutting down of the company raised several eyebrows, especially in the UK Parliament committee that is currently probing the firm’s activities.
“They are party to very serious investigations and those investigations cannot be impeded by the closure of these companies,” said MP Damian Collins. “I think it’s absolutely vital that the closure of these companies is not used as an excuse to try and limit or restrict the ability of the authorities to investigate what they were doing,” he added.
Cambridge Analytica is accused of extracting personal information from Facebook users through a personality test shared on the social media and filled by Facebook users, unaware of the malicious intentions behind those surveys. Within weeks, the company was able to collect a huge database of profiles from over tens of millions of people, as well as each users Facebook friends, even those who did not download the app.
Since the data scandal surfaced, Facebook has been working tirelessly in improving its technology and privacy restrictions.