Two weeks ago, Facebook learned that The New York Times, Guardian, and Observer were working on blockbuster stories based on interviews with a man named Christopher Wylie. The core of the tale was familiar but the details were new, and now the scandal was attached to a charismatic face with a top of pink hair.
Four years ago, a slug of Facebook data on 50 million Americans was sucked down by a UK academic named Aleksandr Kogan, and wrongly sold to Cambridge Analytica. Wylie, who worked at the firm and has never talked publicly, showed the newspapers a trove of emails and invoices to prove his allegations. Worse, Cambridge appears to have lied to Facebook about entirely deleting the data.
To Facebook, before the stories went live, the scandal appeared bad but manageable. The worst deeds had been done outside of Facebook and long ago.
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