Alexander Nix, the CEO of the political analytics firm Cambridge Analytica, was recently fired as recent investigations have revealed that the company may have illegally used the private information of more than 50 million Facebook users. According to an expose by the New York Times, Nix apparently used the controversially acquired information to create predictive software that apparently helped Donald Trump win the 2016 presidential election.
Recent reports of Facebook’s harvesting of users’ data and giving it to third-party companies without their permission has placed the social media giant under a lot of criticism from politicians, users, and lawmakers. The company is now being pressured to explain its actions and to clarify how it was not able to properly handle its users’ personal data. According to The Guardian, the Federal Trade Commission has even launched an investigation into the company’s potential misuse of its users’ personal data.
Nix’s removal was the result of some damning footage that was captured in January, which showed the executive bragging about how his company had used bribery and seduction to influence election results. Nix has been very vocal about how his company played a vital role in Trump’s recent win. The company, founded by Robert Mercer and Stephen K. Bannon, even referred to their psychographic data modeling software as its “secret sauce.”
Recent reports have revealed that the company’s software apparently used exploited data from Facebook users, which were acquired by Aleksandr Kogan, a professor at University of Cambridge. Kogan reportedly used a personality prediction app that required users to let the software access their Facebook credentials. While Kogan’s software hadn’t technically violated any privacy laws, giving the users’ private information to Cambridge Analytica is an entirely different story.
Following the reports, Facebook’s stock prices have plummeted. As reported by CNN, the company experienced a massive drop that decreased its value by almost $50 billion. To put that into perspective, Facebook took several years to even reach $50 billion and now it has managed to lose that amount in just a span of a few days. The company currently has a market cap of around $488 billion, but with the data scandal still in high gear, Facebook may stand to lose more in the coming weeks.