Cambridge Analytica says it’s commissioning a third-party audit to prove that it deleted the trove of data about Facebook users that has embroiled the data analytics firm in controversy.
The scandal erupted last weekend when The New York Times and UK’s The Observer newspaper reported that Cambridge Analytica harvested data about more than 50 million Facebook users.
The data “allowed the company to exploit the private social media activity of a huge swath of the American electorate, developing techniques that underpinned its work on President Trump’s campaign in 2016,” the Times reported.
Facebook says the data in question was properly gathered a few years ago by psychology professor Aleksandr Kogan, who said he was using the data for academic purposes.
But in 2014, it wound up in the hands of Cambridge Analytica, which was working to develop techniques that could be used to influence voters and was later hired by Donald Trump’s campaign.
In a statement Friday, the company reiterated its previous claims that it did not use any of the data during its work for Trump.
The firm also said it is “now undertaking an independent third-party audit” to verify to the public it complied with a Facebook request in 2015 to delete the data.
Cambridge Analytica’s announcement came as 18 law enforcement officers in the UK searched the firm’s offices in London.
The news comes three days after Cambridge Analytica suspended its CEO, Alexander Nix, “pending a full, independent investigation.”
That decision was made public moments before Channel 4 News in the UK was due to air another report in a series of exposes about the work of the company.
The company on Friday also called the media coverage “distressing.”
“As anyone who is familiar with our staff and work can testify, we in no way resemble the politically-motivated and unethical company that some have sought to portray,” a statement reads. “Our staff are a talented, diverse and vibrant group of people.”