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Federal investigators want to know if Facebook lied about Cambridge Analytica

Federal investigators want to know if Facebook lied about Cambridge Analytica


The DOJ, FBI, and SEC are expanding the investigation into the massive data privacy scandal

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Illustration by James Bareham / The Verge

The federal investigation into data mining firm Cambridge Analytica and its relationship to Facebook has been expanded to include an examination into the social network itself, according to a report from The Washington Post. Specifically, investigators want to know whether members of the social network lied to lawmakers, the public, and investors about the massive data privacy scandal that broke back in March. The investigation is being led by the Department of Justice, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, and the Securities and Exchange Commission.

Prior to today, the investigation focused solely on Cambridge Analytica and did not include Facebook itself. Now, federal authorities want to know whether Facebook made false or misleading public statements about its sharing of information with Cambridge Analytica, a firm with connections to the campaign of President Donald Trump that purchased the personal information of as many as 87 million Facebook users from a psychology professor named Aleksandr Kogan. Kogan obtained that data by using Facebook’s generous third-party API to glean information from users — and those users’ friends — who logged into a quiz app he created. Facebook confirmed to The Washington Post that it’s cooperating with the federal agencies involved.

Investigators are also looking into whether the comments and answers provided by Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg during his Capitol Hill testimony in April were sufficient, and whether Facebook has made timely enough disclosures about the whole episode to both its user base and its investors. Separately, Facebook remains under investigation by the Federal Trade Commission over its privacy practices and whether the social network violated the agency’s consent decree, which Facebook signed in 2011.