Academic Behind Facebook Data Breach Says He's Being Scapegoated: Data Was More Likely to Hurt Trump

Cambridge Analytica, hired by Trump campaign, harvested information on 50 million Facebook, but scope of breach 'exaggerated'

Alexander Nix, CEO of Cambridge Analytica arrives at the offices of Cambridge Analytica in central London, Britain, March 20, 2018.
\ HENRY NICHOLLS/ REUTERS

A Cambridge University academic who harvested data on millions of Facebook users said he had been made a scapegoat by the social network and a UK-based political consultancy, and that the accuracy of the dataset had been exaggerated. 

Facebook has been rocked this week by a whistleblower who said that Cambridge Analytica, a UK-based political firm hired by Donald Trump, had improperly accessed information on 50 million Facebook users to sway public opinion. 

Facebook has said the data was harvested by Aleksandr Kogan, a psychology academic. 

"The events of the past week have been a total shell shock," he told the BBC. "My view is that I'm being basically used as a scapegoat by both Facebook and Cambridge Analytica when... we thought we were doing something that was really normal." 

He said the accuracy of the dataset had been "exaggerated" by Cambridge Analytica, and said the dataset was more likely to hurt Trump's campaign.