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Cambridge Analytica suspends CEO Alexander Nix pending probe

| Tuesday, March 20, 2018, 4:18 p.m.
Chief Executive of Cambridge Analytica Alexander Nix, leaves the offices in central London, Tuesday March 20, 2018. Cambridge Analytica, has been accused of improperly using information from more than 50 million Facebook accounts. It denies wrongdoing.
Associated Press
Chief Executive of Cambridge Analytica Alexander Nix, leaves the offices in central London, Tuesday March 20, 2018. Cambridge Analytica, has been accused of improperly using information from more than 50 million Facebook accounts. It denies wrongdoing.

LONDON — The board of Cambridge Analytica, the political data firm that allegedly exploited information from 50 million Facebook users to help Donald Trump's campaign, suspended CEO Alexander Nix on Tuesday for his comments secretly recorded by a British broadcaster.

In a series of broadcasts by Britain's Channel 4, Nix was filmed making controversial statements about his firm's work on elections, including how Cambridge Analytica played a major role in Trump's presidential victory, including "all the data, all the analytics, all the targeting."

The suspended CEO also suggested to a potential client that his company could portray politicians in compromising situations. Nix's suspension was effective immediately.

"Mr. Nix's recent comments secretly recorded by Channel 4 and other allegations do not represent the values or operations of the firm and his suspension reflects the seriousness with which we view this violation," the board of directors said in a statement.

The broadcasts come amid questions about how Cambridge Analytica gained access to people's online profiles, as well as criticism against Facebook for its alleged inaction to protect users' privacy.

A British parliamentary committee on Tuesday summoned Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg to answer questions on whether personal data was improperly used to influence elections.

Facebook sidestepped questions on whether Zuckerberg would appear, saying the tech giant is focused on its own reviews.

In the latest broadcast, which aired Tuesday evening in Britain, Nix downplayed his private testimony before the House Intelligence Committee in December when he was asked about his firm's work for Trump's presidential campaign.

Nix claimed that Republican lawmakers asked him just three questions. "After five minutes — done," he said about his testimony behind closed doors. "They're politicians, they're not technical. They don't understand how it works," he added. Nix, in the video shown Tuesday, also claimed credit for Cambridge Analytica's work with data and research that he said allowed Trump to win the election with a narrow margin of "40,000 votes" in three swing states, giving Trump an electoral college victory, despite losing the popular vote.

Since Trump's election, Cambridge Analytica has flip-flopped over its role in the campaign. The company initially claimed credit for helping elect Trump, but Nix also sought to portray the firm's role as minimal amid investigations into alleged Russian meddling in the 2016 election.

Channel 4's broadcast came a day after the network showed surreptitiously obtained video of Nix saying his company could entrap politicians. Monday night's broadcast in Britain showed one exchange in which Nix said the company could "send some girls around to the candidate's house." Ukrainian girls, he said, "are very beautiful. I find that works very well."

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