GLOBAL REACH

Outside the US, the Philippines saw the most Facebook user data go to Cambridge Analytica

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg is scheduled to testify before US lawmakers next week. The hearings follow a privacy scandal centered around Cambridge Analytica, a UK-based company that surreptitiously harvested user data to aid the Trump campaign. Facebook revealed yesterday that Cambridge Analytica might have gathered data on up to 87 million users—much higher than the 50 million initially reported.

But the scandal wasn’t confined to the United States. In a blog post published yesterday (April 4), Facebook said user data was also collected on millions of users in other countries, including the Philippines, Indonesia, and the UK.

It’s perhaps not surprising that the Philippines and Indonesia rank toward the top behind the United States. Facebook has some of its highest penetration rates across countries in Southeast Asia

Cambridge Analytica and its now-suspended CEO Alexander Nix have boasted about influencing elections in Southeast Asia and elsewhere. Documents from around 2013 obtained by Quartz touting Cambridge Analytica’s predecessor SCL contain a blurb stating that in the Philippines, SCL helped rebrand an incumbent candidate in a national election as a “strong, no-nonsense man of action.” In 2015, Nix appeared before the country’s National Press Club while on a “research trip” and discussed how technology was changing campaigning.

The company also boasted of its influence in Indonesia, where it claims to have conducted survey-based research that helped bring president Abdurrahman Wahid to power in 1999. In Thailand, the company claimed to have done research for multiple political parties on the scale of vote-buying. In total, SCL claimed to have influenced more than 100 election campaigns in over 30 countries by 2013.

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