The Atlantic

What Took Facebook So Long?

Scholars have been sounding the alarm about data-harvesting firms for nearly a decade. The latest Cambridge Analytica scandal shows it may be too late to stop them.
Source: Brian Snyder / Reuters

On Friday night, Facebook suspended the account of Cambridge Analytica, the political-data company backed by the billionaire Robert Mercer that consulted on both the Brexit and Trump campaigns.

The action came just before The Guardian and The New York Times dropped major reports in which the whistle-blower Christopher Wylie alleged that Cambridge Analytica had used data that an academic had allegedly improperly exfiltrated from the social network. These new stories, backed by Wylie’s account and internal documents, followed years of reporting by The Guardian and The Intercept about the possible problem.

The details could seem Byzantine. Aleksandr Kogan, then a Cambridge academic, founded a company, Global Science Research, and immediately took on a major client, Strategic Communication Laboratories, which eventually gave birth to Cambridge Analytica. (Steve Bannon, an adviser to the company and

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