Since the Cambridge Analytica scandal broke, one question has been on everyone’s minds:
So what happened, exactly?
This timeline is Quartz’s attempt to offer a comprehensive, yet clear, explanation of how Cambridge Analytica came to use the data of 50 million Facebook users, collected without their permission, to target potential Trump voters during the 2016 US presidential election. We’re also tracking the ongoing fallout from the scandal, which has engulfed Facebook and its CEO Mark Zuckerberg in an unprecedented backlash.
We’ll continue updating the timeline as more information comes out. For more information about a given event, just click on the bubble at the end of each sentence.
UK-based Strategic Communication Laboratories Group (SCL) founds Cambridge Analytica as its US arm for operations. The move is orchestrated by alt-right publisher Steve Bannon. 3
Cambridge Analytica gets data on Facebook users from Cambridge University researcher Aleksandr Kogan, in violation of
Facebook’s terms. 4
Cambridge Analytica works on the 2014 midterm elections. 5
Christopher Wylie, a data scientist who helped build Cambridge Analytica and would go on to be the key whistleblower in the scandal, leaves the company in July.
Facebook starts to change its policies on using people’s data. 6
Wylie, who started his own company after leaving Cambridge Analytica, still has the harvested Facebook data in his possession—but he says he deletes it sometime in 2015. 7
Wylie’s company, Eunoia Technologies, meets with Donald Trump’s campaign operative Corey Lewandowski to discuss microtargeting techniques. 8
After the Cruz campaign folds, Cambridge Analytica is hired by Donald Trump’s presidential campaign. 11
AggregateIQ, a Canadian firm employed by SCL Group that was reportedly referred to internally as a branch of Cambridge Analytica, is hired by the other major pro-Brexit group, Vote Leave. 12
Both Trump and the “Leave” faction win their respective votes.
Lawmakers demand Facebook explain itself, while regulators and other officials launch investigations into its actions. The company also faces a boycott from users, and anxiety from investors. 17
Michael Coren contributed to this story.