Cambridge Analytica, the data firm hired by Donald Trump’s campaign that mined 87 million people’s Facebook data for the 2016 presidential election, has announced it will shut down. The London-based data firm and its political consulting parent company, SCL Elections, have already begun insolvency proceedings in the U.K., BuzzFeed News reports. In the United States, Cambridge Analytica will declare bankruptcy in a federal bankruptcy court in the Southern District of New York.
The company has been at the center of the data breach scandal that has plagued Facebook for the past several weeks. When Mark Zuckerberg went to Capitol Hill to testify in front of Congress about how the social media platform is addressing the public’s concern over its use of their data, both Cambridge Analytica and SCL had already been suspended by Facebook.
“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 said in a statement.
In addition, Cambridge Analytica maintains “unwavering confidence that its employees have acted ethically and lawfully,” and instead blames “the siege of media coverage” when the company announced it was shutting down.
Christopher Wylie, the whistleblower responsible for leaking the story in the first place, claims the data firm used videos featuring people who were “dismembered, had their throats cut, bled to death in a ditch, and burnt alive” to intimidate Nigerian voters during an election. Wylie has further accused the company of poisoning his predecessor in a hotel room in Kenya. “[T]hey don't care whether or not it's legal as long as it gets the job done," he said.
Besides the Facebook scandal involving Trump’s campaign, SCL—which was founded by Steve Bannon and GOP donor Robert Mercer—was also embroiled in a bribery scandal that alleged the firm offered $1.4 million to win the election for the UK’s Labour Party. The fate of the SCL Group remains unclear.