A tool for Russia? Cambridge Analytica academic tries to deflect criticism

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LONDON, The United Kingdom – The academic at the centre of the Cambridge Analytica scandal maintained he was the scapegoat of Facebook in “PR crisis mode,” speaking at a hearing of the Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Parliamentary Committee in London on Wednesday.

“I think they realise that their platform has been mined left and right by thousands of others and I was just the unlucky person that ended up somehow linked to the Trump campaign, and we are where we are,” said Aleksandr Kogan, a psychologist and data scientist at Cambridge University.

“I think they realise all this, but PR is PR and they’re trying to manage the crisis, and it’s convenient to point the finger at a single entity and try to paint the picture this is a rogue agent.”

Kogan claimed his work for Cambridge Analytica’s parent company SCL Group was “worthless” and his data could not help run targeted ads on Facebook.

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When questioned about his ties to Russia, the academic denied his data could have been used by the Kremlin to influence the US presidential election. Instead, he sought to draw parallels between the covert activities of the US and UK governments.

Kogan is the creator of an app which supposedly allowed Cambridge Analytica to mine the data of 87 million Facebook users. The information was then used to psychologically profile voters for political advertising during elections campaigns, including that of US President Donald Trump.

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