Aleksandr Kogan, the University of Cambridge psychology professor who harvested data from Facebook and sold it to Cambridge Analytica, apologized for a tactic that has spawned the wrath of internet users worldwide.
Kogan told CBS’ “60 Minutes” he was “sincerely sorry” for assuming that everyone knew their data was being mined, but didn’t care. He was the one who designed the personality quiz that granted access to personal data ― location, gender, birthday and page likes for the person taking the quiz as well as their friends ― on tens of millions of Facebook users.
“Back then, we thought it was fine. Right now, my opinion has really been changed,” he said.” “If I had any inkling that I was going to cause people to be upset, I would’ve never done it.”
Kogan insisted the ability to access vast amounts of user data “was a core feature of the Facebook platform for years. This was not a special permission you had to get. This was just something that was available to anybody who wanted it who was a developer.” Tens of thousands of developers, he guessed, likely did the same thing.
He said he knew that the data he sold to Cambridge Analytica was going to be used for elections in some way, and he surmised that the client was on the Republican side.
Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg pointed a finger at Kogan during his congressional testimony last week, accusing the psychologist of violating his agreement with Facebook by selling the data to Cambridge Analytica. Paul Grewal, Facebook’s vice president and deputy general counsel, called Kogan’s work a “scam” and a “fraud” (Facebook also suspended Kogan’s account.)
Kogan acknowledged he may have broken Facebook rules by selling the data, admitting that he likely didn’t read the social media giant’s developer policy.
“This is the frustrating bit, where Facebook clearly has never cared. I mean, it never enforced this agreement,” Kogan said. “They’ll let you know if you do anything wrong. I had a terms of service that was up there for a year and a half that said I could transfer and sell the data. Never heard a word.”