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Australian regulator sues Facebook over Cambridge Analytica scandal

By Ramla Soni

Information Commissioner alleges that personal information from more than 300,000 Facebook profiles was used unlawfully. Meanwhile Twitter announces deal with activist hedge fund

Facebook is being sued by the Australian privacy regulator over the Cambridge Analytica scandal that saw millions of people’s profiles allegedly mined for information.

Angelene Falk, the Australian Information Commissioner, started proceedings against Facebook in the country’s Federal Court alleging “serious and/or repeated interferences with privacy in contravention of Australian privacy law”.

In 2018 it was revealed that Cambridge Analytica had harvested the personal data of millions of Facebook profiles without their owners' consent and used it for political advertising purposes such as the Brexit vote.

The Australian regulator alleges that personal information from more than 300,000 Facebook profiles was given unlawfully to an app on the site called “This Is Your Digital Life”. This risked being disclosed to Cambridge Analytica for political profiling.

Those who break Australia’s Privacy Act can be fined up to 1.7 million Australian dollars ($1.1 million, £864,000) per contravention.

In September, Facebook suspended tens of thousands of apps as part of an investigation into the Cambridge Analytica scandal, because some of them made profile information publicly available.

The social media platform’s stock value has also been negatively affected by the coronavirus. Facebook stock has plunged 5.6 per cent in pre-market and continued falling after opening. Advertising accounts for 95 per cent of Facebook revenue.

Meanwhile Twitter has announced a deal with Elliott Management Corp, giving it a board seat just over a week after the activist hedge fund pushed for the removal of CEO Jack Dorsey.

Under the deal, private equity firm Silver Lake will invest $1 billion in Twitter and also get a board seat. Twitter said it would use its own cash and Silver Lake’s investment to fund a $2 billion repurchase programme.

Twitter said its board has formed a committee to evaluate its leadership structure, CEO succession plan and share the results publicly before the end of the year.

In trading this morning, Twitter shares opened at $31.

FURTHER READING: Twitter exploited its users personal information for advertising

FURTHER READING: Facebook drops appeal against Cambridge Analytica fine

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