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Alexander Kogan, the academic who was hired by Cambridge Analytica to harvest information from tens of millions of Facebook profiles, defended his role in the data collection Sunday.

Yet Kogan, 28, a psychology professor who has found himself cast as the villain by both Cambridge Analytica and Facebook, expressed regret for his role in the data mining, which took place in 2014.

"Back then, we thought it was fine. Right now my opinion has really been changed," he said.

In his first extensive interview since it came to light, Kogan insisted that he was upfront about the Facebook app used to harvest the data, and that no one seemed to care.

"The belief in Silicon Valley and certainly our belief at that point was that the general public must be aware that their data is being sold and shared and used to advertise to them," Kogan said in an interview Sunday with 60 Minutes.

Kogan was hired by Cambridge Analytica in June 2014 and harvested the data throughout the summer by asking Facebook users to take a lengthy personality questionnaire.

Facebook has said that those who took the quiz were told that their data would be used only for academic purposes, claiming that it and its users were misled. Cambridge Analytica has said it was told that Kogan's app complied with Facebook's own rules.

But The Times reported last month that the fine print accompanying Kogan's questionnaire told Facebook users that their data could be used for commercial purposes. That was a violation of Facebook's rules at the time.

"This is the frustrating bit, where Facebook clearly has never cared. I mean, it's never enforced this agreement," Kogan told 60 Minutes.

"I had a terms of service that was up there for a year and a half that said I could transfer and sell the data," he continued, adding: "Never heard a word."

A Section on 04/23/2018

Print Headline: Professor laments data-mining role

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  • RobertBolt
    April 23, 2018 at 8:40 a.m.

    Future news: The Trump campaign today expressed regret that the Russians had hacked the Democrats at the candidate's request. "We just thought it would be a funny little prank," the spokesman said, " but then the Russians gave us the data, and they didn't even tell us not to use it."

  • Dontsufferfools
    April 23, 2018 at 9:40 a.m.

    I kind of agree with the professor. You put stuff on the Internet and then expect everyone who sees it to treat it as proprietary? The crime is how the data was used by Cambridge Analytica. My understanding is that it tried to cocoon its targeted audience in waves of fake political narratives. I guess this is what Faux News does, too. This contemporary media practice of knowingly spreading false narratives seems dangerously divisive.