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States open probes Into election firm's Facebook data use

(Bloomberg) -- Connecticut opened an inquiry into how the personal information of millions of Facebook Inc. users came into the possession of U.K.-based Cambridge Analytica, the sophisticated data analytics firm that helped President Donald Trump win the 2016 election.

Reports that as many as 50 million profiles were tapped "raise serious questions about how this happened in the specific situation involving Cambridge Analytica and about Facebook’s policies and practices," Connecticut Attorney General George Jepsen said Monday.

Facebook said in a March 16 blog post that Cambridge Analytica received some user data in 2014 through an app developer on its social network, violating its policies. Facebook said Cambridge Analytica certified in 2015 that it had destroyed the information, though Facebook is now calling that claim into question. Cambridge Analytica, based in London, has denied wrongdoing and said it didn’t use the data in its work for Trump.

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An attendee sits in front of a messenger logo during the Facebook F8 Developers Conference in San Francisco, California, U.S., on Tuesday, April 12, 2016. Facebook Inc. Chief Executive Officer Mark Zuckerberg outlined a 10-year plan to alter the way people interact with each other and the brands that keep advertising dollars rolling at the worlds largest social network. Photographer: Michael Short/Bloomberg

Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey opened a civil investigation and has already been in touch with Menlo Park, California-based Facebook, according to her spokeswoman Emalie Gainey. The state’s top law enforcement officer is examining the nature of the impacted data, how the data was used and what policies if any were violated, she said.

“We are in the process of conducting a comprehensive internal and external review as we work to determine the accuracy of the claims that the Facebook data in question still exists,” Paul Grewal, vice president and deputy general counsel at Facebook, said in a statement. “That is where our focus lies as we remain committed to vigorously enforcing our policies to protect people’s information.”