The CEO of controversial data analytics firm Cambridge Analytica was suspended today after he was filmed by undercover journalists appearing to encourage the use of beautiful women to entrap politicians as part of election influence campaigns. Alexander Nix will face a “full, independent investigation” of his comments, the company’s board said in a press release.
“In the view of the Board, Mr. Nix’s recent comments secretly recorded by Channel 4 and other allegations do not represent the values or operations of the firm and his suspension reflects the seriousness with which we view this violation,” the company said in a statement posted to its website. “We have asked Dr. Alexander Tayler to serve as acting CEO while an independent investigation is launched to review those comments and allegations.”
Cambridge Analytica, which served as the data operations team for Donald Trump’s election campaign in 2016, came under scrutiny after reports in The New York Times and The Guardian this week stated that the company had misused a researcher’s data to harvest more than 50 million user profiles from the site. The revelations have triggered a crisis at Facebook, with lawmakers in several countries now investigating the company’s response.
The basic details about how Cambridge Analytica obtained the data in question have been known for two years. But reports that the company held onto the data despite telling Facebook it had deleted it, and Facebook’s failure to confirm that the data had been purged, have renewed concerns about data privacy on the world’s biggest social network.
Facebook suspended Cambridge Analytica from its platform on Friday night. The company has hired a digital forensics team to determine whether the company retained its data improperly.