Academic behind Facebook breach says he is a ‘scapegoat’

Facebook has been rocked this week by a whistleblower who said that Cambridge Analytica, a UK-based political firm hired by Trump for the 2016 campaign, had improperly accessed information on 50 million Facebook users. (Reuters)
Updated 21 March 2018
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Academic behind Facebook breach says he is a ‘scapegoat’

LONDON: A Cambridge University academic who harvested data on millions of Facebook users said he has been made a scapegoat by the social network and a UK-based political consultancy that is accused of trying to sway public opinion for Donald Trump.
Facebook has been rocked this week by a whistleblower who said that Cambridge Analytica, a UK-based political firm hired by Trump for the 2016 campaign, had improperly accessed information on 50 million Facebook users.
The company has lost $60 billion of its stock market value over the last two days over fears that its dealings with Cambridge Analytica might damage its reputation, deter advertisers and invite tougher regulation.
Facebook has said the data was harvested by Aleksandr Kogan, a psychology academic, who created an app on the platform that was downloaded by 270,000 people. It says he then violated its policies by passing the data to Cambridge Analytica.
“The events of the past week have been a total shell shock,” Kogan 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.
“We were assured by Cambridge Analytica that everything was perfectly legal and within the terms of service.”
Alexander Nix, the head of Cambridge Analytica who was suspended on Tuesday, said in a secretly recorded video that his company had played a decisive role in Trump’s election victory.
But Kogan said the accuracy of the dataset had been “exaggerated” by Cambridge Analytica, and that the information was more likely to hurt Trump’s campaign.


Arab News moves editorial headquarters to Riyadh

Updated 47 min 10 sec ago
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Arab News moves editorial headquarters to Riyadh

  • Newspaper to be based at owning group’s corporate office building in Saudi Arabia’s capital
  • Managing Editor Mohammed Al-Sulami promoted to newly created position of Jeddah bureau chief

JEDDAH: Four decades after its establishment in Jeddah, Arab News — the region’s leading English-language daily — is announcing that it is moving its editorial headquarters to the Saudi capital, Riyadh.

The head office of the newspaper, which today celebrates its 43rd anniversary, will be relocating to the corporate headquarters building of its owning group, the Saudi Research and Marketing Group (SRMG).

The SRMG building — on Makkah Al-Mukarramah road in Riyadh’s Al-Mutamarat district — is also home to the headquarters of several of Arab News’ sister publications, including the Arabic-language business daily Al-Eqtisadiah, Arriyadiyah sports daily and the Saudi bureau of the regional pan-Arab daily Asharq Al-Awsat.

“When Arab News was established in 1975, most embassies and major corporations — including SRMG — were based in Jeddah. Things have changed since and given the magnitude of events and regional decision-making taking place in the Kingdom’s capital, it only makes sense for us to be moving into our owning group’s headquarters in Riyadh,” said Faisal J. Abbas, editor in chief of Arab News


“We at Arab News claim to be The Voice of a Changing Region, and we can’t be that voice if we are not at the heart of this change. This move will bring us closer to local and visiting decision-makers, while our Jeddah bureau will continue to serve as an important regional hub,” he added.

The new address and contact details of the paper has been reflected in both its print and online editions as of today. The official inauguration of the new headquarters in Riyadh will take place at a ceremony to be held later this quarter.

Arab News also announces the promotion of Managing Editor Mohammed Al-Sulami to the newly created role of Jeddah bureau chief, supervising editorial and administration operations for the whole western region of Saudi Arabia. Al-Sulami — a Saudi journalist who has been with the newspaper since 2009 — assumes his new duties as of May 1, 2018.