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Cambridge Analytica is liquidating in wake of Facebook scandal

Cambridge Analytica is liquidating in wake of Facebook scandal
Cambridge Analytica spokesperson Clarence Mitchell speaks during a news conference in London in April. (Matt Dunham / Associated Press)

Cambridge Analytica, the beleaguered data collection agency that worked for President Trump's 2016 election campaign, is liquidating operations.

The British firm filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy protection late Thursday. It said in a New York court filing that its assets totaled $100,001 to $500,000. Its liabilities are between $1 million and $10 million, and it has between one and 49 creditors.

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The filing is signed by Jennifer and Rebekah Mercer, sisters who are majority shareholders of Cambridge Analytica. Their father is billionaire Robert Mercer, a Republican mega-donor with close ties to Trump. He sold his stake in the pro-Trump website Breitbart News to Jennifer and Rebekah Mercer in late 2017.

Cambridge Analytica has come under scrutiny for possible links to the federal probe into Russia's meddling in the 2016 U.S. presidential election and fallen into the crosshairs of special counsel Robert S. Mueller III.

Cambridge Analytica filed papers to begin insolvency proceedings in the U.K. earlier this month. At the time, it blamed "unfairly negative media coverage" and said it had been "vilified" for actions it said were both legal and widely accepted as part of online advertising.

Cambridge Analytica has insisted that none of the Facebook data it acquired from an academic researcher was used in the Trump campaign. The company was able to amass the database quickly with the help of an app that purported to be a personality test. The app collected data on tens of millions of people and their Facebook friends, even those who did not download the app themselves.

Facebook since has tightened its privacy restrictions, and Chief Executive Mark Zuckerberg testified before Congress in two days of hearings. Facebook also has suspended other companies for using similar tactics. One is Cubeyou, which makes personality quizzes. That company has said it did nothing wrong and is seeking reinstatement.

Cambridge Analytica suspended CEO Alexander Nix in March pending an investigation after Nix boasted of various services to an undercover reporter for Britain's Channel 4 News. Channel 4 News broadcast clips that showed Nix saying his data-mining firm played a major role in securing Trump's victory in the 2016 presidential elections.

Acting CEO Alexander Tayler stepped down from that role in April and returned to his previous post as chief data officer.

On Thursday, British lawmakers investigating the use of Facebook users' data in political campaigns said that Nix accepted a summons to appear before Parliament's media committee. He is to appear June 6.

Separately, it was announced that Zuckerberg will meet with leaders of the European Parliament in a closed-door meeting Tuesday about the data protection scandal that has engulfed Facebook.

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