Cambridge Analytica declares bankruptcy in wake of Facebook, Trump scandal

By @chelean on
Laptops sit on a table in the empty offices of Cambridge Analytica in Washington, D.C., U.S., May 2, 2018.
Laptops sit on a table in the empty offices of Cambridge Analytica in Washington, D.C., U.S., May 2, 2018. Reuters/Leah Millis

Cambridge Analytica is shutting down immediately. The controversial data firm that worked on US President Donald Trump’s 2016 campaign, as well as its parent company, SCL Elections Ltd, has announced it would begin bankruptcy proceedings.

The political consulting firm, which was at the centre of the Facebook privacy scandal, lamented that it has been “vilified” in the past months for its actions that were apparently both legal and accepted. The media and public outcry unfortunately scared off its customers and suppliers, it said, leaving it with no other choice than to go into administration.

“Over the past several months, Cambridge Analytica has been the subject of numerous unfounded accusations and, despite the Company’s efforts to correct the record, has been vilified for activities that are not only legal, but also widely accepted as a standard component of online advertising in both the political and commercial arenas,” the company said in a sentence.

“The siege of media coverage has driven away virtually all of the company’s customers and suppliers,” it continued. “As a result, it has been determined that it is no longer viable to continue operating the business, which left Cambridge Analytica with no realistic alternative to placing the company into administration.”

It shut down operations in its London offices on Wednesday, with its employees being told to turn in their computers.

According to Wall Street Journal, Cambridge Analytica hired investigator Julian Malins to prove the firm did not engage in any wrongdoing in its work on political campaigns. Malin’s report, Cambridge Analytica claimed, said that its employees had acted ethically and lawfully. But despite the investigator’s findings, the media still sought to disparage the company. Legal fees were apparently one of the reasons why it collapsed.

In March, UK’s Channel 4 News published its sting operation showing Cambridge Analytica executives boasting about working on over 200 elections around the world. CEO Alexander Nix was recorded in the footage saying that his company used malicious practices for opposition research.

Cambridge Analytica was created in 2013 to focus initially on US elections. It was apparently the force behind Trump’s win in the presidential election in 2016. It sought information on Facebook using an app that garnered information not only of those who used the app, but also their friends network. This resulted in information-gathering of about 50 million users. Facebook has since been the subject of privacy scandals.

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