Massachusetts AG to Investigate Facebook, Data Firm With Ties to Trump Campaign

Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey announced Saturday that her office is opening an investigation into Facebook and the data firm Cambridge Analytica, which has ties to the Trump campaign.

“Massachusetts residents deserve answers immediately from Facebook and Cambridge Analytica. We are launching an investigation,” Healey tweeted.

Cambridge Analytica CEO Alexander Nix gives an interview during the 2017 Web Summit in Lisbon, Nov. 9, 2017. (Credit: Patricia De Melo Moreira / AFP / Getty Images)

Cambridge Analytica CEO Alexander Nix gives an interview during the 2017 Web Summit in Lisbon, Nov. 9, 2017. (Credit: Patricia De Melo Moreira / AFP / Getty Images)

Healey’s office confirmed to CNN it has opened an investigation and has been in touch with Facebook about the timing, reach and legal implications of the matter.

On Sunday afternoon, Sen. Ed Markey, a Democrat from the state, called for the two companies to testify before the Senate Commerce Committee.

“The recent revelations about Facebook and Cambridge Analytica raise serious questions about the extent to which the social media giant respected user privacy and whether it violated its consent decree with the FTC,” Markey said in a statement. “Facebook and Cambridge Analytica should be made to testify before the Senate Commerce Committee so that we can get to the bottom of these disturbing reports that may impact tens of millions of Americans.”

The investigation and call for a hearing come following¬†Facebook’s suspension of the firm¬†over concerns it had violated the social media platform’s policies.

On Friday, Facebook’s vice president and deputy general counsel, Paul Grewal, said in a detailed statement that a University of Cambridge psychology professor, Aleksandr Kogan, had provided Facebook user data he gained through an app to third-parties, including Cambridge Analytica — a breach of the social media site’s policies on protecting people’s information.

Although Cambridge Analytica told Facebook the data was destroyed, the social media site’s statement said it recently received reports that indicated otherwise and was suspending the data firm, its parent company Strategic Communication Laboratories, Kogan, and another person he shared the information with, Christopher Wylie of Eunoia Technologies Inc.

A spokesperson for Cambridge Analytica denied that the organization is in violation of Facebook’s terms and said it is in communication with the social media site.

Cambridge Analytica was hired in summer 2016 as part of the Trump campaign’s three-pronged data operation.