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"People chose to share their data with third party apps and if those third party apps did not follow the data agreements with us/users it is a violation.no systems were infiltrated, no passwords or information were stolen or hacked".

Officials in the European Union and the USA sought answers, while Britain's information commissioner said she will seek a warrant to access Cambridge Analytica's servers because the British firm had been "uncooperative" in her investigation.

The British firm said it "strongly denies" the claims from Channel 4 as well as reports on misuse of Facebook data.

Brian Wieser at Pivotal Research said the revelations highlight "systemic problems at Facebook", but that they won't immediately impact the social network's revenues.

Yet Cambridge boasted of its work after another client, Texas Republican Sen.

Facebook has also approached two other individuals - former Cambridge employee-turned-whistleblower Christopher Wylie, and University of Cambridge professor Aleksandr Kogan, who did the scraping - to submit to audits as well. He didn't respond to questions about whether Facebook threatened legal action. The company is facing new criticism following reports that a data mining firm employed by the Trump campaign improperly kept data on tens of millions of users.

Facebook shares have fallen sharply as the social network faces questions from U.S. and British politicians about its privacy rules.

The firm is accused of using the personal data of 50 million Facebook members, amassed via a personality quiz app created by an academic. While they have taken voluntary steps to restrict foreign interference and combat false news, they have not been forced by law or regulation to make changes, and legislation on the issue has stalled. A British legislator said Facebook had misled officials while Senator Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota said Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg should testify before the Senate Judiciary Committee. "It is essential that people can have confidence that their personal data will be protected and used in an appropriate way". Facebook suspended Cambridge's access late Friday. The firm itself denies wrongdoing, and says it didn't retain any of the data pulled from Facebook and didn't use it in its 2016 campaign work. He also said that while political ads are also targeted at specific voters, what's different here is that people wouldn't know they were getting messages aimed at influencing their views.

"Facebook data was not used by Cambridge Analytica as part of the services it provided to the Donald Trump presidential campaign", a statement read.

Cambridge was backed by the conservative billionaire Richard Mercer, and at one point employed Stephen Bannon - later President Donald Trump's campaign chairman and White House adviser - as a vice president.

But the Channel Four investigation appeared to show that Cambridge Analytica considers itself far more than a mere data-crunching firm, also seeing itself as a shadowy political dirty-tricks factory.