Professor Apologizes for Helping Cambridge Analytica Harvest Facebook Data


But in his first extensive interview since the report in The Times, Mr. 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,” Mr. Kogan said in an interview with “60 Minutes” on Sunday.

Founded by Stephen K. Bannon and Robert Mercer, a wealthy Republican donor, Cambridge Analytica rose to prominence for its work with President Trump’s campaign in the 2016 election. The company claimed it had developed analytical tools that could identify the personalities of American voters and influence their behavior — and that Facebook data had been used to help create so-called psychographic modeling techniques.

The techniques have been widely questioned by academics and other political data firms, and Cambridge Analytica has since insisted that the Facebook data was not used in its work in the 2016 campaign.

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Until April 2015, Facebook allowed app developers to collect some private information from the profiles of users who downloaded apps, and from those of their friends.

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Josh Edelson/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

Mr. Kogan was hired on a contract by Cambridge Analytica in June 2014 — the same month the company was founded — and harvested the data throughout the summer by asking Facebook users to take a lengthy personality questionnaire.

The questionnaire was not actually on Facebook. It was hosted by a company called Qualtrics, which provided a platform for online surveys. Respondents were asked to authorize access to their Facebook profiles, and when they did, an app built by Mr. Kogan performed its sole function: harvesting the data of users and all of their Facebook friends. Their names, birth dates and location data, as well as lists of every Facebook page they had ever liked, were downloaded without their knowledge or express consent.

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 by Cambridge Analytica and Mr. Kogan. Cambridge Analytica has said it was told that Mr. Kogan’s app complied with Facebook’s own rules.

But The Times reported last month that the fine print accompanying Mr. Kogan’s questionnaire told Facebook users that their data could be used for commercial purposes. That was an outright violation of Facebook’s rules at the time, but the company did nothing to stop Mr. Kogan’s app from collecting the data.

“This is the frustrating bit, where Facebook clearly has never cared. I mean, it’s never enforced this agreement,” Mr. 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.”

Until April 2015, Facebook allowed app developers to collect some private information from the profiles of users who downloaded apps, and from those of their friends. Facebook has said it allowed this kind of data collection to help developers improve the “in-app” experience for users.

Facebook even worked with Mr. Kogan. In November 2015, it brought him in as a consultant to explain the technique he had used for Cambridge Analytica, which focused on how the Facebook pages that users had “liked” could reveal aspects of their personalities.

“At the time, I thought we were doing everything that was correct,” Mr. Kogan told “60 Minutes.”

“If I had any inkling that what I was going to do was going to destroy my relationship with Facebook, I would never have done it,” he said.

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North Korea Issues Rare Apology Over Media Access to K-Pop Show


He is widely believed in the South to have masterminded the sinking of a South Korean Navy ship in 2010, when he served as director of the North’s main spy agency. South Korea says a North Korean torpedo attack sank the ship, killing 46 sailors, but the North denies it.

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Kim Yong-chol, a vice chairman of North Korea’s ruling Workers’ Party, in Seoul, South Korea, in February. He visited the South Korean reporters’ hotel on Monday to apologize.

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Ahn Young-Joon/Associated Press

On Sunday evening, several South Korean pool reporters were barred by their North Korean minders from entering the concert hall.

The South Korean government later lodged a protest. On Monday, Kim Yong-chol explained that the minders had been overruled by Kim Jong-un’s bodyguards. The vice chairman apologized for the lack of coordination between different branches of the Pyongyang government.

After North Korea conducted a series of nuclear and missile tests last year that increased tensions, Kim Jong-un has shifted to dialogue in recent months. He has agreed to meet with South Korea’s president, Moon Jae-in, on April 27, and has offered to sit down with President Trump. Mr. Trump has agreed to do so by May, in an attempt to persuade him to give up his nuclear weapons.

In the past week alone, Mr. Kim has stunned the region with his breathtaking pace of diplomacy.

Last week, he met President Xi Jinping in Beijing, for his first known trip outside North Korea since he became leader. On Friday, he met with the International Olympic Committee president, Thomas Bach, in Pyongyang. On Sunday, he clapped and laughed while watching South Korean pop singers, whose influence on North Korea’s isolated populace his government has been trying to block. Afterward, he shook hands with each performer and posed for a group photograph.

His welcoming of K-pop icons, and Kim Yong-chol’s apology, are a stark departure from just a few years ago, when South Korea began blaring K-pop songs across their shared border as a psychological warfare tactic. The North Korean military warned of an “all-out war” if the South did not turn off its loudspeakers, and it even fired warning shots across the border.

In North Korea, all radio and TV channels are controlled by the government and filled with propaganda. The regime has been cracking down on K-pop music that has entered the country via bootleg DVDs from China.

But on Sunday, the same day the United States and South Korea started joint annual military drills, which usually draws warlike rhetoric and even missile tests from the North, South Korean K-pop singers were allowed to perform in Pyongyang.

On Monday, the North’s official Korean Central News Agency quoted Kim Jong-un as saying that he was “deeply moved to see our people sincerely acclaiming the performance, deepening the understanding of the popular art of the south side.”

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