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Facebook still doesn’t know what user data Cambridge Analytica actually had

Did the Trump campaign have suspicious-looking data sets? “No, not really.”

There are still some (big) rocks to be turned over in Facebook’s Cambridge Analytica drama.

Despite suspending the data firm, which collected the personal data of as many as 87 million Facebook users without their permission, Facebook is still trying to figure how big the Cambridge Analytica problem is.

“To this day, we still don’t actually know what data Cambridge Analytica had,” COO Sheryl Sandberg said on Tuesday at Recode’s annual Code Conference in Rancho Palos Verdes, Calif.

That’s not really a secret, though it’s an interesting reminder. Facebook was set to conduct an audit of Cambridge Analytica, a data firm used by Donald Trump’s presidential campaign during the 2016 election. But that audit was put on hold when the U.K. government came in to conduct their own investigation.

Facebook has clearly not picked the audit back up — at least not yet.

When asked if Facebook employees, who helped with the Trump campaign, noticed any kind of suspicious data set, Sandberg said, “No, not really.”

Understanding what data Cambridge Analytica had is important because it could be useful in trying to determine how much of a role Facebook may have had in the 2016 U.S. presidential election.

Here are some other highlights from the conversation:

  • Sandberg gently pushed back on recent criticism from Apple CEO Tim Cook about their data troubles, saying Facebook “respectfully disagrees” with his critique. Recall that Zuckerberg said Cook’s comments were “extremely glib.”
  • Sandberg said that she expects Facebook to draw more questions from regulators if it makes more multi-billion dollar acquisitions like Oculus or WhatsApp. “Certainly as you get bigger there’s more scrutiny of acquisitions — and there should be,” she said. Sandberg predicted that a major acquisition would “probably be allowed” as long as the acquired company wasn’t related to Facebook’s core business, but rather an expansion of it.
  • Facebook is doing more in hardware — check out the new Oculus headset — but don’t expect Facebook to reboot its past failed effort to create an operating system or its own mobile device: “I don’t think we’re talking about going back into phones,” Sandberg said.

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