Aleksandr Kogan, the computer scientist at the center of the Facebook data harvesting scandal, said Mark Zuckerberg is “totally” a hypocrite in a Monday CNBC interview. Kogan made headlines in March after the New York Times and The Guardian reported that political data firm Cambridge Analytica bought data on as many as 87 million Facebook users – harvested by Kogan’s personality app, thisismydigitallife.
The Moldovan-born researcher from Cambridge University says he’s being used as a scapegoat, and that there are “tens of thousands” of other apps do the same thing, Kogan said. “It’s certain”
“In reality, I think, the truth is we’ve got tens of thousands of over apps that did the same thing, probably on a much bigger scale than me,“ Kogan told CNBC’s Power Lunch. “And they’re all out there and Facebook has no accounting for it.”
“The amazing thing is if you go and look at Facebook apps literally right now, many, if not most will have language in the terms of service that say they can transfer the data to third parties. I’m not talking about small companies, I am talking about some of the biggest companies in the world. And you can go and do this yourself right now. And Facebook is still not policing it.“
Kogan says that Facebook is “trying to distract,” adding “they’re trying to make this story about, ‘Hey, it’s a rogue agent and he transferred the data.'”
He insists that, far from being a rogue, he had a close relationship with the company. “I was working with [Facebook] for a long time,” said Kogan, who was the former co-director of global science research at the University of Cambridge. “I was a great ally. They hired my students. The fact that we were doing this project, it seemed like something super normal. I never expected anything to go wrong.“
He added that the company’s business model is the real issue. –CNBC
“Their model is built on selling ads,” Kogan said. “To sell ads in social media, you want to find the right person and the right place at the right time and serve them the right ad. That’s your advantage over TV. To do that, you want to know as much as possible about people. Now, if Facebook actually has to back up a minute and get less data and get people to opt in, it’s a real threat to the business model.“
Kogan also said that Cambridge Analytica paid his company, Global Science Research, £230,000 (approx. $321,453 USD) for their service, most of which went into failed start ups and legal fees.