Cambridge Analytica, the data analytics firm that came under fire for harvesting data of millions of Facebook users to allegedly influence the 2016 election, is shutting down.
According to a documentation reviewed by Gizmodo, Cambridge Analytica employees were directed to return their keycards. The decision to shut down the parent company, SCL Group, was announced by its chairman Julian Wheatland on Wednesday. The company will halt all its operations and begin its bankruptcy proceedings.
Wheatland said that the decision to shutter the company was taken after the irreparable damage to the company’s reputation stemming from its data collection scandal. Wheatland said that the decision was extremely painful for Cambridge Analytica, as several dedicated employees would lose their jobs. The company, in spite of its precarious financial condition and being a constant target of negative press coverage, will meet its obligation to its employees by doling out reasonable severance packages.
Cambridge Analytica also issued a statement that several of the media reports against the company are based on unfounded accusations. The data analytics firm claimed it was being “vilified for activities that are not only legal but also widely accepted as a standard component of online advertising.”
On Wednesday, the company released another report created by noted Queen’s Counsel Julian Malins.
Malins, who conducted the investigation into the company’s activities during the 2016 election, concluded that the media reports were not accurate.
Malins, who was given full access to Cambridge Analytica staff and documents, said that “his findings entirely reflect the amazement of the staff.” He added that the media sensationalized the coverage. “Nothing of what they heard or read resonated with what Cambridge Analytica actually did for a living,” said Malins.
Malins’ report also doled out details about whistleblower Christopher Wylie, who used to work part-time for Cambridge Analytica.
REMEMBER: Cambridge Analytica specialises in disinformation! We need to make sure their shut down is not just some rebranding or a way to hide from investigations. The SAME PEOPLE set up ANOTHER COMPANY and yesterday issued new company resolutions! Smells fishy af pic.twitter.com/o0ox3AeGL0— Christopher Wylie (@chrisinsilico) May 2, 2018
According to the report, Wylie’s involvement with the company was minimal. As per the contract, he was not an employee, but a student intern. His hours were limited to 19 hours, which meant he worked only two days a week. The report also claimed that Wylie tried law at the LSE and then fashion at The London College of Fashion.