After the much discussed Cambridge Analytica scandal, Facebook has broken all its ties with the Cambridge University researcher Aleksandr Kogan. In his defense, Kogan has said that he is being scapegoated in the matter and he wasn’t aware that he broke Facebook’s privacy policies.
A newer revelation made by The Guardian suggests that his ties with Facebook weren’t limited to the infamous CA scandal. For a research paper, titled “On wealth and the diversity of friendships: High social class people around the world have fewer international friends,” which was published in 2015, Kogan also received a huge chunk of data from Facebook.
It’s worth noting that the nature of the shared data is completely different from the previous data in question. It was anonymized and included no personally identifiable information.
The data in question pertained to 57 billion Facebook friendships, which accounts for all friendships formed in 2011 in every country in the world. The data was used to examine whether social class plays an important role in international friendships.
Moreover, Facebook’s two employees were also co-authors of the paper. At that time, Kogan published under the name Aleksandr Spectre.
The people acquainted with similar matters have hinted that sharing of that amount of data by Facebook isn’t common; it surely implies a pre-existing relationship with Kogan.
In a statement, Facebook called the shared dataset literally numbers. “Numbers of how many friendships were made between pairs of countries – i.e. x number of friendships made between the US and UK,” the company added.
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