LONDON: Cambridge Analytica, the data firm embroiled in a controversy over its handling of Facebook user data, and its British parent firm SCL Elections have ceased operations, the company said on Wednesday.

Cambridge Analytica and SCL Elections will begin bankruptcy proceedings, the firm said, after losing clients and facing mounting legal fees in the controversy over reports the company harvested personal data about Facebook users beginning in 2014.

“The siege of media coverage has driven away virtually all of the Company’s customers and suppliers,” the company’s statement said.

“As a result, it has been determined that it is no longer viable to continue operating the business, which left Cambridge Analytica with no realistic alternative to placing the company into administration.” Allegations of improper use of data on 87 million Facebook users by Cambridge Analytica, which was hired by President Donald Trump’s 2016 election campaign, has hurt the shares of the world’s biggest social network and prompted multiple official investigations.

“Over the past several months, Cambridge Analytica has been the subject of numerous unfounded accusations and, despite the company’s efforts to correct the record, has been vilified for activities that are not only legal, but also widely accepted as a standard component of online advertising in both the political and commercial arenas,” the company’s statement said.

The firm is shutting down effective Wednes­day and employees have been told to turn in their computers, the Wall Street Journal reported earlier.

Cambridge Analytica is a part of SCL Group, a government and military contractor that says it works on everything from food security research to counter-narcotics to political campaigns. The group was founded more than 25 years ago, according to its website.

Published in Dawn, May 3rd, 2018

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