WASHINGTON — The U.K. professor at the center of the Cambridge Analytica scandal on Tuesday rejected the idea that the Facebook user data he provided to the Trump-linked firm were helpful in targeting voters.
Aleksandr Kogan, in testimony before a Senate Commerce subcommittee, said the notion that the data were weaponized to dupe people into voting in a particular way in the 2016 election “rests on an incorrect premise about the data and its utility.” He said many claims about his work are exaggerated or false.
“I believe there is almost no chance this data could have been helpful to a political campaign — and I still have not seen any evidence to indicate that the Trump campaign used this dataset to micro-target voters,” Kogan said.
Kogan is a central figure in the ongoing controversy. He collected data on millions of Facebook users via a quiz app and shared that information with Cambridge Analytica, which did work for the Trump campaign.
Kogan acknowledged that “people may feel angry and violated” about the use of their data, calling it “an understandable emotional reaction” and saying hes “very regretful” he did not better anticipate it.
“My view is that we should think hard about finding ways to empower consumers, giving them the ability to make more informed decisions about how their data is used,” he said. “This, I fear, cannot be left entirely to companies and consumers to work out among themselves as business interests may run counter to consumer privacy interests because of present revenue models.”