Cambridge Analytica is suspending its chief executive, Alexander Nix, effective immediately, and is launching an independent investigation to determine if the company engaged in any wrongdoing, the company said.
The moves followed the release of a video Monday that depicted Mr. Nix touting campaign tactics such as entrapping political opponents with bribes and sex. The sales pitch was captured by undercover journalists at British broadcaster Channel 4.
The company’s independent investigation is aimed at determining whether Mr. Nix or anyone in the company actually used any of the tactics he mentioned in the video, according to a person familiar with the matter.
The company’s board suggested the suspension and Mr. Nix agreed to it, the person said. Mr. Nix had faced internal pressure in recent days to leave the company or take on a low-profile role with few responsibilities, people familiar with the matter said. The move was announced at a companywide meeting on Tuesday.
The video’s release came amid an uproar over reports that the company improperly used data from millions of
The company confirmed Mr. Nix’s suspension in a statement on Tuesday. A spokesman said the comments by Mr. Nix in the Channel 4 video “do not represent the values or operations of the firm, and his suspension reflects the seriousness with which we view this violation.”
Alexander Tayler, the company’s chief data officer, will serve as acting CEO. Julian Malins, a London-based lawyer, will lead the investigation, the results of which the board will share publicly “in due course,” the company said.
Mr. Nix, who is based in London, was set to arrive in the U.S. on Tuesday, according to a person familiar with the matter.
People close to Cambridge Analytica have long complained about what they describe as Mr. Nix’s penchant for exaggerating the company’s capabilities and work, sometimes to its own detriment. They said Mr. Nix has repeatedly mischaracterized the work the company did for the Trump campaign, including promoting the idea that Cambridge Analytica had provided psychographic analysis related to the personalities and values of voters to the campaign. The firm didn’t provide such analysis to the Republican president’s campaign, the people said.
Facebook said Friday it had suspended the firm from its platform, saying Cambridge Analytica had violated its policies governing how third-party developers can deploy user data they obtained from the company. The Federal Trade Commission said Tuesday it is probing Facebook over Cambridge Analytica’s use of the platform’s data.
A Cambridge Analytica spokesman said in a statement that its political division didn’t use the Facebook data in question. The firm said it deleted all data it received after it became clear that the way the information was obtained violated Facebook’s policies.
In the video released by Channel 4 on Monday, Mr. Nix described the company’s ability to hide its involvement in elections and described what he said was previous tactics the company had undertaken to damage the political opponents of their clients. “We’re used to operating through different vehicles, in the shadows,” Mr. Nix told the undercover reporter.
In a statement Monday, the company said the video was “edited and scripted to grossly misrepresent” the conversations, and Mr. Nix said he had apologized to staff and that he was merely “playing along” with the conversation.