May 2 (UPI) — Cambridge Analytica announced Wednesday it is shutting down amid accusations the data-mining firm improperly accessed data from millions of Facebook users.
The British-based company and its affiliate, SCL Elections, are filing insolvency proceedings in Britain and bankruptcy proceedings in the United States.
Cambridge Analytica said a “siege of media coverage” of its dealings with Facebook has driven away customers, leaving the business no longer viable. It said reports about how it obtained and used Facebook user data were unfounded.
“Despite the company’s efforts to correct the record, [it] has been vilified for activities that are not only legal, but also widely accepted as a standard component of online advertising in both the political and commercial arenas,” the company said in a statement.
Cambridge University academic Aleksandr Kogan and his company Global Science Research used the quiz app “This Is Your Digital Life” to gather data on users — and the users’ friends, who did not participate in the quiz — which it then shared with Cambridge Analytica. The company used demographic information from the data to target political advertising.
On March 20, Cambridge Analytica suspended CEO Alexander Nix and said it was investigating comments Nix made in an undercover recording. He said the company could secretly compromise political rivals by arranging smear campaigns, setting up encounters with prostitutes and staging bribery situations.
Counsel Julian Malins, who conducted the investigation, said allegations against Cambridge Analytica were not “borne out by the facts.”
“I had full access to all members of staff and documents in the preparation of my report,” Malins said. “My findings entirely reflect the amazement of the staff, on watching the television programmes and reading the sensationalistic reporting, that any of these media outlets could have been talking about the company for which they worked. Nothing of what they heard or read resonated with what they actually did for a living.”
President Donald Trump‘s campaign used the services of Cambridge Analytica for the 2016 presidential election.