Newly released messages reveal when Facebook first knew about Cambridge Analytica breach

A long sought-after internal document, obtained Friday morning by NBC News and subsequently made public by Facebook and the D.C. attorney general’s office, throws into question what and when the social media giant first learned about the violation of tens of millions of users’ private data.

The document reveals that Facebook first learned about unconfirmed reports of a potential data violation in September 2015. The company sought to address the issue then but was not made aware of the full scope of the problem until a Guardian report was published in December 2015.

The timeline is significant because Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg has testified that the company only learned from the Guardian’s report that developer Aleksandr Kogan sold user data to Cambridge Analytica, a violation of Facebook’s policy prohibiting researchers from selling or sharing data with third parties.

But the Securities and Exchange Commission filed a complaint in July stating that Facebook employees had “requested an investigation” into Cambridge’s “possible ‘scraping'” of data in September 2015 — three months before the Guardian report was published.

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