Facebook bans another political data analytics firm, AggregateIQ

The social networking giant makes a second high-profile move against a data analytics company, just weeks after cutting off Cambridge Analytica.

Ian Sherr Contributor and Former Editor at Large / News
Ian Sherr (he/him/his) grew up in the San Francisco Bay Area, so he's always had a connection to the tech world. As an editor at large at CNET, he wrote about Apple, Microsoft, VR, video games and internet troubles. Aside from writing, he tinkers with tech at home, is a longtime fencer -- the kind with swords -- and began woodworking during the pandemic.
Ian Sherr
2 min read

Earlier this week, Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg said her company was on the hunt for the next data analysis firm that was violating its policies. Now it may have found one.

Three weeks after Facebook banned Cambridge Analytica, a UK-based political data analysis firm the social network said improperly received as many as 87 million user profiles leaked from its service, Facebook has made a second high-profile move. This time, the target was AggregateIQ, a Canadian advertising and analysis firm that whistleblower Christopher Wylie from Cambridge Analytica said was linked to the same parent company, called SCL.

"In light of recent reports that AggregateIQ may be affiliated with SCL and may, as a result, have improperly received FB user data, we have added them to the list of entities we have suspended from our platform while we investigate," Facebook said in a statement. The news was first reported by by the National Observer, a Canadian investigative news site.

Representatives for AggregateIQ didn't respond to a request for comment. On the company's website, though, AggregateIQ says that it has no connections to Cambridge Analytica or SCL and that it never had access to the reportedly leaked user profiles. Cambridge Analytica, for its part, has said through a series of statements that the allegations against it are incorrect and that it acted appropriately.

The move marks the latest in a series of efforts by the social networking giant amid revelations that it had lost control of the profile information of millions of users, which was then used to potentially influence elections around the world. The widening scandal has led privacy advocates and users alike to call for legislators and regulators to hold Facebook accountable for what happened. Mark Zuckerberg , Facebook's co-founder and CEO, said he now realizes he was overly optimistic, and didn't foresee malicious companies misusing its service in this way.

Cambridge Analytica was notable not just for its reported behavior, but also who it worked for. The company was said to have worked for Donald Trump's presidential campaign, among others. Trump's former chief strategist, Steve Bannon, also helped run the company.

AggregateIQ, meanwhile, has been linked to the successful Brexit vote to have the UK leave the European Union.

Facebook's move against AggregateIQ also comes just a few days before Zuckerberg is scheduled to testify at hearings on Capitol Hill, where legislators in the Senate and House of Representatives will question him on the widening scandal.

In the meantime, Facebook said it's auditing records in an effort to find any other companies that may have taken advantage of its service. 

"As we find more Cambridge Analyticas, we're going to find a comprehensive way to put them out and make sure people see them," Sandberg told BuzzFeed in an interview published Thursday, referring to efforts to publicize problems.

Cambridge Analytica: Everything you need to know about Facebook's data mining scandal.

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