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Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 20 July 2018

Facebook says SEC and FBI are probing Cambridge Analytica incident

After initially resisting criticism, the company eventually made multiple changes to its data policies

Facebook said Monday that it’s cooperating with the US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) and the Federal Bureau of Investigation on their reviews of the data transfer to Cambridge Analytica. Matt Rourke AP Photo
Facebook said Monday that it’s cooperating with the US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) and the Federal Bureau of Investigation on their reviews of the data transfer to Cambridge Analytica. Matt Rourke AP Photo

Facebook, already facing scrutiny from US lawmakers and regulators over how a political consulting firm obtained personal information from users of the social network, is now being probed by more federal agencies focusing on the company’s disclosures about the incident.

Facebook said Monday that it’s cooperating with the US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) and the Federal Bureau of Investigation on their reviews of the data transfer to Cambridge Analytica, which worked on Donald Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign.

The company already was facing questions from the Federal Trade Commission, Bloomberg reported in March. That month, Facebook responded to reports that Cambridge Analytica obtained the data from a researcher who created a personality quiz app on the social network. More than 87 million people could have been affected, Facebook has said.

“We are cooperating with officials in the US, UK and beyond,” a Facebook spokesman said in an email. “We’ve provided public testimony, answered questions, and pledged to continue our assistance as their work continues.”

After initially resisting criticism, the company eventually made multiple changes to its data policies to deal with public outrage.

CEO Mark Zuckerberg testified in April at congressional hearings about the company’s data privacy practices and other matters. Facebook also has responded to more than 2,000 follow-up questions from lawmakers. The probe by the SEC and FBI was reported earlier by the Washington Post.

Facebook shares slipped 1 percent in extended trading, after closing Monday at $197.36 in New York.

Ryan White, an SEC spokesman, declined to comment on whether the regulator was looking into the matter.

The inquiries are focused on what Facebook has said publicly about its data-sharing with Cambridge Analytica, the Post reported. Agencies are asking whether those remarks “square with the underlying facts” and whether Facebook made “complete and timely disclosures to the public and investigators,” according to the newspaper.

The company has said it first heard about Cambridge Analytica obtaining user data without consent in 2015, when the media reported about it.