Facebook has suspended Cambridge Analytica, a political data analytics firm that worked on Facebook ads for President Donald Trump during the 2016 presidential election, saying that it lied about deleting user data sent to it by the makers of a popular psychology test app.
In a blog post, Facebook explained that a University of Cambridge psychology professor, Dr. Aleksandr Kogan, created an app called “thisisyourdigitallife,” which asked users to answer questions to build a psychological profile.
He then passed this information along to Strategic Communication Laboratories (SCL) and Cambridge Analytica — which is affiliated to SCL — without informing users.
The Trump campaign paid Cambridge Analytica more than $6 million to target Facebook ads based on voter data it had collected during the campaign, according to Federal Election Commission records cited by Reuters.
According to Facebook, about 270,000 people downloaded the app, and gave consent for Kogan to access information such as the city they set on their profile, or content they had liked, among others.
Facebook banned the app in 2015, and Cambridge Analytica said that it had deleted all data from it.
But Facebook says it recently received reports that the company had not in fact deleted all data, so it has suspended SCL and Cambridge Analytica until further notice pending an internal investigation.
The move comes as Facebook continues to deal with fallout from the 2016 presidential election. This includes a recent indictment of some Russian nationals for conducting misinformation campaigns on the platform in an effort to widen political divisions in America and influence the election in Trump’s favor.