A newly revealed massive leak by defunct data firm Cambridge Analytica has been exposed via internal documents, showing voter manipulation in at least 68 countries, according to reports on Monday (Jan. 6), citing former Cambridge Analytica employee and self-proclaimed whistleblower Brittany Kaiser.
Cambridge Analytica and its parent company, SCL Elections, first made international headlines when it was discovered in 2018 that Cambridge Analytica stole information on some 87 million Facebook users after being hired by President Trump’s 2016 election campaign. The psychographic profiling of U.S. voters with the user data segmented them into groups, and potential voters were labeled with personality traits like “highly neurotic.” Cambridge Analytica, in turn, delivered content customized to users’ hopes and fears.
The data scandal has, so far, cost Facebook $5 billion in a Federal Trade Commission (FTC) fine. However, there was not an official investigation, nor were specific privacy rules handed down to the social media giant. Top executives even received blanket immunity for any known or unknown data violations from 2012 to 2018.
Kaiser, the former business development director at Cambridge Analytica, was a central contributor to the Netflix documentary about the scandal called “The Great Hack.” She began releasing this latest data on Jan. 1 on Twitter via her handle @HindsightFiles, due to concerns over possible voter manipulation in the upcoming U.S. elections.
“I’m very fearful about what is going to happen in the U.S. election later this year, and I think one of the few ways of protecting ourselves is to get as much information out there as possible,” she told The Guardian on Friday (Jan. 3).
In the upcoming months, Kaiser is planning to release more than 100,000 emails, project plans, case studies and negotiations, all grouped by country.
California’s attorney general said in November that Facebook has continued “to drag its feet” when it comes to handing over documents pertaining to the state’s investigation into the social media giant and Cambridge Analytica. Since the Cambridge Analytica scandal, Facebook has been hit with several other privacy scandals. At least 11 partners — mainly social media management and video streaming apps — accessed members’ information in the 60 days prior to Nov. 6, though Facebook has not seen any evidence of abuse.