Facebook reviewing whether employee knew of Trump data firm leak

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(Bloomberg) -- Facebook Inc. is reviewing whether one of its own research employees knew about a leak of user information on 50 million people to Cambridge Analytica, the advertising data firm that helped Donald Trump win the 2016 presidential campaign.

Joseph Chancellor works at Facebook as a social psychology researcher and is under review, according to the company. Previously, he was co-director of Global Science Research, the company that obtained information on Facebook users and their friends through permissions they gave a personality quiz app. Chancellor didn’t respond to a message via LinkedIn seeking comment.

Another GSR co-director, Aleksandr Kogan, later gave that information to Cambridge Analytica, a move that wasn’t allowed under Facebook’s rules, the company said. When Facebook found out in 2015, the company asked for assurance that the data was destroyed. It wasn’t, according to news reports in the New York Times and the Observer. Facebook wrote on Friday that Kogan lied, and said it suspended him and Cambridge Analytica from Facebook.

Shares in Facebook were down 2.2 percent during early trading at 5:00 a.m. in New York.

In 2015, Facebook hired Chancellor, who remains an employee. A spokesman said he focuses on virtual-reality research. His profile on Facebook’s corporate website reveals a broader focus, including “social influences,” advertising, personality, happiness and emotions.

Lawmakers have demanded answers for why Facebook wasn’t able to ensure the data was deleted and didn’t let users know what was going on until Friday, just before news organizations were set to publish their investigations.

Cambridge Analytica has said it no longer has the data. The firm has helped run advertising for various political campaigns, including Trump’s, by evaluating information on audience segments to predict who might best respond to targeted ad messages.

Bloomberg News