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Post-Cambridge Analytica, Facebook doesn’t want to desert academia

Post-Cambridge Analytica, Facebook doesn’t want to desert academia
Alex Stamos [Photo: Harry McCracken]

The political targeting firm Cambridge Analytica may be synonymous with Facebook’s current mess, but it got the Facebook profiles it misused through a middleman, academic Alexsandr Kogan. Kogen has recently said he’s been scapegoated by both Facebook and Cambridge Analytica, but the fact remains that when Facebook gave him access to user information, which he extracted via a quiz, the company thought he was using it for research purposes.

At his talk at the F8 developer conference today, Facebook CSO Alex Stamos emphasized that the company isn’t reacting to this breach of trust by building a wall between itself and academic types. Instead, it sees closer ties with researchers as being part of the solution.

“As some of you may have heard, we’ve recently had some issues that have come up from sharing information with academics,” said Stamos, with a trace of sardonic humor. “But we’re not going to let that stop us.” Indeed, the company recently created an intiative to help university researchers gauge social networks’ role in spreading threats to elections, and plans to share Facebook user data—carefully—to aid this investigation.

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