Facebook has accused Kogan of lying about his purposes for collecting the dataCNN/YouTube/Outside Insight

The University of Cambridge has called on Facebook to hand over all evidence it holds relating to the case of Dr Aleksandr Kogan, the academic at the centre of a scandal over the use of social media data by a political consultancy firm.

Kogan is alleged to have provided Cambridge Analytica, which specialises in data-driven microtargeting of individuals via social media for its campaigns, with data relating to millions of Facebook users.

In a statement released today, a spokesperson confirmed that the University had written to Facebook requesting that “all relevant evidence” be handed over, in an attempt to ascertain how data collected through a Facebook app was used by Cambridge Analytica.

Kogan, a University lecturer at the Department of Psychology, was banned from Facebook last week when it emerged that he had violated the platform’s policies by releasing data to the consultancy firm as part of an political operation which may have been used to influence the US presidential election. Cambridge Analytica today announced the suspension of their CEO “pending a full, independent investigation”.

In their statement, the University re-emphasised that it believes Kogan did not use University property or data as part of his work with Cambridge Analytica.

Kogan has come under scrutiny after it was revealed by The Observer that he held a position at St Peterburg University, without the knowledge of many of his colleagues, in which he received grants from the Russian government.

Yesterday, CNN reported that Kogan had sought to deny claims made against him to colleagues. In an email seen by the news agency, Kogan denied that his work on the app had any involvement with the University: “We never claimed during the project that it was for academic research. In fact, we did our absolute best not to have the project have any entanglements with the University.”


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Who is Dr Aleksandr Kogan, the Cambridge academic accused of misusing Facebook data?

In the email, Kogan asserted that, although the app was initially labelled as being for academic purposes, its terms and conditions were later changed, with a clear statement that users were granting Kogan permission to sell and use their data.

“It's been honestly a surreal week,” Kogan reportedly wrote to his colleagues. “I've been asked quite seriously by reporters from the NY Times and the Guardian if I am a Russian spy. I really tried to explain that one seems just silly. If I am Russian spy, I am the world's dumbest spy.”

Facebook has claimed that Kogan did not inform the company when he changed the app’s purpose. It says that the app’s initial description stated that it was “part of a research program in the Department of Psychology at the University of Cambridge."

The University used its new statement today to repeat some of the assertions it made when news of the scandal first broke on Saturday, via reports in The New York Times and The Observer. The University reiterated that Cambridge Analytica has no affiliation with the University, and that it believes Kogan’s work for the company and research for St Petersburg University had both been undertaken in a private capacity

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