Turns out there is a link between Peter Thiel’s secretive big data analytics firm, Palantir, and Cambridge Analytica — the political consulting firm at the center of the current Facebook data misuse scandal. Facebook responds to data misuse Starting in 2013, the New York Times reports that a UK-based Palantir employee worked with Cambridge Analytica — going on to gain access to the dataset of 50M+ Facebook users the latter firm obtained in 2014 via a third party personality quiz app deployed on the social network giant’s platform. In testimony to the UK parliament yesterday, CA whistleblower Chris Wylie told MPs that senior Palantir employees worked with the firm on the Facebook data to help it build models off of the dataset to use for political ad targeting purposes. At the time Wylie worked for SCL Group, the UK defense contractor that went on to form CA with funding from US billionaire, Robert Mercer. CA was later engaged by the Trump campaign, for the 2016 presidential election. Reached yesterday for a response to Wylie’s allegations, a Palantir spokeswoman flatly denied Wylie’s claim — telling us: “Palantir has never had a relationship with Cambridge Analytica nor have we ever worked on any Cambridge Analytica data.” However in a statement to the NYT, Palantir has now modified this line — saying: “We learned today that an employee, in 2013-2014, engaged in an entirely personal capacity with people associated with Cambridge Analytica. We are looking into this and will take the appropriate action.” The NYT reports it has seen documents showing that a London-based employee of the big data firm — named as Alfredas Chmieliauskas — worked with the CA data scientists who were building its psychological profiling technology. The documents were presumably provided by Wylie (pictured below), who has also handed email and other documentary evidence to the DCMS committee investigating online disinformation in political campaigning, as well as to the UK’s data watchdog and Electoral Commission — both of which are also probing digital political campaigning issues (including around the UK’s 2016 Brexit referendum vote, which Wylie alleges CA also worked on). According to the NYT report, it was actually Chmieliauskas who came up with the idea for cloning the work of Michal Kosinski, the first Cambridge University academic that Wylie says CA approached for help to gather data. Kosinski was deputy director at Cambridge University’s Psychometrics Centre at the time and, along with another professor…

Source: TechCrunch – Social Palantir confirms a staff link with Cambridge Analytica