Why is Cambridge Analytica so volatile?

Why is Cambridge Analytica so volatile?

Lavleen kaur kapoor

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Read Following article on - Why is Cambridge Analytica so volatile? 

The recent interest in privacy protection around the world has put focus on organisations that have betrayed the trust of people and leaked their data to make profit. Post the public outrage against Facebook for compromising on the data of its users across the world, the name of Cambridge Analytica (CA) also surfaced prominently, as the organisation behind harvesting and use of personal data of millions of people across the world. Cambridge Analytica's executives said in 2018 that the company had worked in more than 200 elections around the world

What is Cambridge Analytica?

Cambridge Analytica was a British consulting firm which played a significant role in influencing elections by combining data mining, data brokerage and data analysis with strategic communication. It was involved in various elections in US, notably Donald Trump’s presidential campaign, the Brexit campaign. It is also alleged that CA worked for a prominent national party in India in an effort to undermine Indian politics and favour vested interests.

Methods that make it volatile

The method of collecting data adopted by CA is what has created a furore all over and led to cases being filed against the company. CA breached the privacy of individuals by collecting data on voters from sources such as demographics, internet activity, consumer behaviour and other sources and using it to understand the target audience and help its clients, which included political parties, governments and companies. The CEO Alexander Nix, has been recorded admitting to the use of honey traps, bribes, and other sources for opposition research. CA’s use of Facebook is shown below:

Cambridge Analytica

Source - Guardian

Breach of privacy laws and ethics

CA and Facebook breached privacy laws by collecting and using personal data without knowledge or permission. CA harvested raw data from nearly 87 million Facebook profiles. This happened as Facebook allowed a third party to create an application for the sole purpose of gathering data, which it sold later on. The developer gathered information not only of people using that app but also of their friends. The following table points out to the number of people whose Facebook data was improperly shared by CA:



Number of people


United States









United Kingdom












Source - Facebook


On 1 May 2018, CA shut shop and filed for insolvency. Facebook too faced a drop of $37 billion in the market capitalization, as of 20th March 2018, along with loss of public trust.

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