Cambridge Analytica and its partners used data from previously unknown “Facebook-connected questionnaires” to obtain user data from the social media service, according to testimony from a former Cambridge Analytica employee.
Brittany Kaiser provided evidence to the British Parliament today as part of a hearing on fake news. Kaiser, who worked on the business team at Cambridge Analytica’s parent company until January of this year, wrote in a statement that she was “aware in a general sense of a wide range of surveys” used by Cambridge Analytica or its partners, and she said she believes the number of people whose Facebook data may have been compromised is likely higher than the widely reported 87 million.
In the statement, she said a “sex compass” quiz was used to obtain data, and in spoken testimony, explained that the quiz was pitched as a way to “find out what your personal preferences were privately.” She explained further that she was also familiar with a quiz on “your music personality.”
“In my pitches, I used to give examples, even to clients, that, if you go on Facebook and you see these viral personality quizzes, not all of them would have been designed by Cambridge Analytica, SCL Group, or our affiliates, but that these applications were designed specifically to harvest data from individuals using Facebook as the tool,” she said.
Cambridge Analytica obtained data on as many as 87 million Facebook users through a personality quiz app designed by researcher Aleksandr Kogan. Facebook has said it has changed its policies since the data was misused, and is now attempting to audit and ban apps that may be improperly using user information.
Cambridge Analytica did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Kaiser’s written testimony on other surveys is below:
I should emphasise that the Kogan/GSR datasets and questionnaires were not the only Facebook-connected questionnaires and datasets which Cambridge Analytica used. I am aware in a general sense of a wide range of surveys which were done by CA or its partners, usually with a Facebook login – for example, the “sex compass” quiz. I do not know the specifics of these surveys or how the data was acquired or processed. But I believe it is almost certain that the number of Facebook users whose data was compromised through routes similar to that used by Kogan is much greater than 87 million; and that both Cambridge Analytica and other unconnected companies and campaigns were involved in these activities.