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Facebook says it’s hired a forensics team to investigate Cambridge Analytica

Illustration by Alex Castro / The Verge

After acknowledging that Trump campaign-linked data firm Cambridge Analytica mishandled the data of 50 million users, Facebook says it has hired a digital forensics team to investigate the company.

On Friday, ahead of investigative reports detailing the scheme, Facebook said it had banned the company and its parent organization from the platform after it was revealed that a professor, using a seemingly innocuous app to draw in users, passed the resulting data to Cambridge Analytica, in violation of Facebook’s policies. In its announcement, Facebook said it had received reports that, contrary to claims from Cambridge Analytica, the data had not been destroyed.

The ensuing outrage directed toward both Facebook and Cambridge Analytica, which ran data operations for the Trump campaign, has been swift and widespread. Today, in a follow-up note, Facebook says it has hired the firm Stroz Friedberg to conduct the audit. According to Facebook, Cambridge Analytica is cooperating and offering access to their servers. The professor involved has also agreed to provide an audit, while a whistleblower involved has not, the company said.

Facebook says the investigation is meant to verify claims from Cambridge Analytica and others who say the data in question has, in fact, been destroyed. “If this data still exists, it would be a grave violation of Facebook’s policies and an unacceptable violation of trust and the commitments these groups made,” Facebook said in its statement.