Business Insider Edition

Second Cambridge Analytica whistleblower says 'sex compass' app gathered way more Facebook data than the 87 million we already knew about

Jake Kanter , Business Insider US
 Apr 17, 2018, 06:26 PM

Former Cambridge Analytica executive Brittany Kaiser.

  • A second Cambridge Analytica whistleblower says the Facebook data fiasco affects way more than 87 million users.
  • Brittany Kaiser says Cambridge Analytica used numerous questionnaires to gather data.
  • One was called "sex compass."
  • Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg has repeatedly apologised for the data breach.

The 87 million Facebook accounts harvested by Cambridge Analytica (CA) in a massive data breach were probably just the tip of the iceberg.

That's the written testimony CA's former Business Development Director Brittany Kaiser gave to Britain's Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Committee (DCMSC) on Tuesday.

She told British lawmakers, who are conducting an inquiry into fake news and the Facebook data scandal, that CA used numerous questionnaires to gather data.

These quizzes, Kaiser said, were in addition to the now infamous Thisisyourdigitallife personality quiz CA conducted with University of Cambridge psychology professor Aleksandr Kogan's firm Global Science Research to harvest information from 87 million Facebook accounts.

"I am aware in a general sense of a wide range of surveys which were done by CA or its partners, usually with a Facebook login," she told the DCMSC, highlighting one quiz called "sex compass" with no further detail.

And then, crucially, Kaiser added:

"I believe it is almost certain that the number of Facebook users whose data was compromised through routes similar to that used by Kogan is much greater than 87 million; and that both Cambridge Analytica and other unconnected companies and campaigns were involved in these activities."

Clarifying the written evidence during a hearing on Tuesday, DCMSC Chairman Damian Collins asked: "The purpose of the survey was to gather this information and that by completing it with your Facebook login, Cambridge Analytica also gets access to your data?"

Kaiser replied: "I believe that was the point of the quizzes in the first place, yes."

A CA spokesman said: "It's widely known that like other marketing agencies we sometimes collect personality data using a research panel with an appropriate statement of consent."

The firm has denied harvesting the data from 87 million Facebook users, instead claiming it "licensed data for no more than 30 million people." 

A Facebook spokesman said: "We are currently investigating all apps that had access to large amounts of information before we changed our platform to dramatically reduce data access in 2014.

"We will conduct a full audit of any app with suspicious activity. And if we find developers that misused personally identifiable information, we will ban them and tell everyone affected." 

The data scandal, which was first exposed by CA whistleblower Christopher Wylie in The Observer newspaper last month, wiped around $60 billion (about R720 billion) off Facebook's value. CEO Mark Zuckerberg apologised repeatedly for the fiasco and was hauled in front of Congress last week to explain the company's actions.

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