Cambridge University has hit out over claims made by Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg that a number of researchers at the institution were building apps using Facebook data.
The CEO of Facebook appeared before a joint hearing of the US Senate Judiciary and Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation committees in Washington DC today (Wednesday, April 11).
Although the 33-year-old billionaire has apologised publicly several times, this marked the first time Zuckerberg appeared in front of officials since the news broke about Cambridge Analytica harvesting the data of 87 million Facebook accounts.
The scandal caused a huge backlash from privacy campaigners and has resulted in a wave of people deleting their Facebook account.
The news also caused the social network's share price to drop dramatically.
Ahead of the hearing, the panel's Republican chairman Greg Walden and top Democrat Frank Pallone said: "This hearing will be an important opportunity to shed light on critical consumer data privacy issues and help all Americans better understand what happens to their personal information online.”
Speaking during the hearing, Zuckerberg seemed to suggest that a number of researchers at Cambridge University were building apps using data harvested from Facebook.
He said: “What we found out was, there is a whole programme associated with Cambridge University, where a number of researchers – not just Kogan – although to our current knowledge hes the only one who sold it at Cambridge Analytica, there are a number of researchers building similar apps.
“So what we do need to understand is whether there is something bad going on at Cambridge University overall, that will require a stronger action from us.”
"We wrote to Facebook asking for evidence – we've yet to receive a response"
A spokesman for Cambridge University responded to Zuckerbergs comments, as the Guardian reported.
The spokesman said: “We would be surprised if Mr Zuckerberg was only now aware of research at the University of Cambridge looking at what an individuals Facebook data says about them.
“Our researchers have been publishing such research since 2013 in major peer-reviewed scientific journals, and these studies have been reported widely in international media.
“These have included one study in 2015 led by Dr Aleksandr Spectre (Kogan) and co-authored by two Facebook employees.
“We wrote to Facebook on 21 March to ask it to provide evidence to support its allegations about Dr Kogan. We have yet to receive a response.”