Cambridge Rejected Facebook Research Due to Unethical Stance on Privacy in 2015

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MOSCOW (Sputnik) - Cambridge University rejected research conducted by Alexander Kogan, the academic who was hired by consultancy firm Cambridge Analytica to collect information from tens of millions of Facebook profiles, in 2015 because of his controversial approach to privacy issues, local media reported Tuesday.

In March, media reports emerged that personal information of about 50 million Facebook users had been harvested by Cambridge Analytica without their permission through a special app designed by Kogan. According to The Guardian newspaper, in 2015, Kogan proposed researching how Facebook activity was linked to one's socioeconomic status and environment.

A photographer takes a photograph of the nameplate of political consultancy, Cambridge Analytica, in central London, Britain March 21, 2018 - Sputnik International
Cambridge Analytica Researcher Kogan Calls Facebook Data Mining ‘Pretty Usual’
The Guardian reported, citing the newly released papers, that Cambridge University's ethics panel said that the Kogan's proposal was rather worrisome, and the a project of this nature should be rejected. One of the panel members reportedly stated that Facebook users had not given their consent to allow the research to be conducted.

According to the media outlet, the documents were released ahead of a House of Commons hearing where Kogan is scheduled to appear in connection with an investigation into fake news and information. The scholar had reportedly never previously mentioned the fact that his research was rejected by the university.

Facebook has acknowledged that the information of millions users of the social network — up to 87 million people mostly located in the United States, according to the recent estimates — was harvested by Cambridge Analytica. The firm gathered the information from social media accounts to develop a mechanism that would predict and influence the behavior of voters.

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