Facebook was concerned about Cambridge Analytica’s scraping of user data well before the consulting firm’s acquisition of information on millions of the social network’s users exploded into an international scandal, according to a report in the Guardian on Friday. The report adds a new wrinkle to the scandal that has dogged Facebook for a year and suggests it could cause even more trouble for the company.
The report, which cites a U.S. court filing, says Facebook workers were concerned as early as September 2015 that Cambridge Analytica’s data scraping was problematic. That’s well before the December 2015 revelations that the consultancy had improperly obtained data on some 87 million Facebook users from GSR, a company founded by a former Cambridge University scholar. It was the transfer between GSR and Cambridge Analytica that was against the rules and triggered the scandal.
Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg has testified to Congress that he learned in December 2015, and no earlier, of the transfer. Facebook told the Guardian it “absolutely did not mislead anyone about this timeline.” Even so, the report has already caught the attention of UK politicians, with House of Commons member Damian Collins tweeting that it suggests the company may have misled lawmakers about “what it knew and when about Cambridge Analytica.”