To probably save its image from further erosion, Cambridge Analytica said it has suspended Alexander Nix with immediate effect, pending a full, independent investigation.
Cambridge Analytica was accused of an illegal data racket with Facebook, the world’s largest social network where the latter was said to have shared users data with Cambridge Analytica to target Facebook users with political messages in Nigeria, US and the UK.
The company said in an official message that:
In the view of the Board, Mr. Nix’s recent comments secretly recorded by Channel 4 and other allegations do not represent the values or operations of the firm and his suspension reflects the seriousness with which we view this violation.
We have asked Dr. Alexander Tayler to serve as acting CEO while an independent investigation is launched to review those comments and allegations.
We have asked Julian Malins QC to lead this investigation, the findings of which the Board will share publicly in due course.
The Board will be monitoring the situation closely, working closely with Dr. Tayler, to ensure that Cambridge Analytica, in all of its operations, represents the firm’s values and delivers the highest-quality service to its clients.
Facebook has responded to the matter that:
We have hired a digital forensics firm, Stroz Friedberg, to conduct a comprehensive audit of Cambridge Analytica. Cambridge Analytica has agreed to comply and afford the firm complete access to their servers and systems. We have approached the other parties involved — Christopher Wylie and Aleksandr Kogan — and asked them to submit to an audit as well. Mr. Kogan has given his verbal agreement to do so. Mr. Wylie thus far has declined.
This is part of a comprehensive internal and external review that we are conducting to determine the accuracy of the claims that the Facebook data in question still exists. This is data Cambridge Analytica, SCL, Mr. Wylie, and Mr. Kogan certified to Facebook had been destroyed. If this data still exists, it would be a grave violation of Facebook’s policies and an unacceptable violation of trust and the commitments these groups made.
We are moving aggressively to determine the accuracy of these claims. We remain committed to vigorously enforcing our policies to protect people’s information. We also want to be clear that today when developers create apps that ask for certain information from people, we conduct a robust review to identify potential policy violations and to assess whether the app has a legitimate use for the data. We actually reject a significant number of apps through this process. Kogan’s app would not be permitted access to detailed friends’ data today.
A follow up statement on that day said:
“Independent forensic auditors from Stroz Friedberg were on site at Cambridge Analytica’s London office this evening. At the request of the UK Information Commissioner’s Office, which has announced it is pursuing a warrant to conduct its own on-site investigation, the Stroz Friedberg auditors stood down”.