• Your one stop for college news and resources!

Sam Stevenson

Xxxtentacion

Controversial Rapper XXXTentacion Shot Dead in Florida Aged 20

Chart-topping US rapper XXXTentacion was shot dead in South Florida on Monday, June 18.

The rapper’s latest album debuted at the top of the Billboard 200 chart, making it his second consecutive hit record.

The murder

XXXTentacion, whose real name is Jahseh Onfroy, was gunned down outside of a motorcycle dealership in Deerfield Beach, the Broward County Sheriff’s Office announced.

He was taken to hospital soon after where he was pronounced dead.

XXXTentacion had been at RIVA Motorsports checking out inventory, the sheriff’s office said. He was in a black luxury vehicle and preparing to leave when two armed suspects approached him. At least one of them fired, and then both suspects fled the scene in a dark SUV.

Investigators say the attack may have been robbery, as a Louis Vuitton bag was taken from the back seat of the rapper’s car.

The controversy

Despite his huge popularity, XXXTentacion was often described as one of rap’s most controversial artists and was facing domestic violence, aggravated battery and false imprisonment charges stemming from 2016.

According to the Miami New Times, his ex-girlfriend Geneva Ayala’s depositions “detail a pattern of regular, torturous abuse that summer, with daily verbal attacks and physical incidents every three or four days.”

According to Ayala’s statement, he beat her at times, choked her, broke clothes hangers on her legs, threatened to chop off her hair or cut out her tongue, pressed knives or scissors to her face, and held her head underwater in their bathroom while threatening to drown her.

From tough upbringing to number one

XXXTentacion had a troubled upbringing and was expelled from middle school for fighting, but he channelled his energy and fury into music.

He quickly cemented himself as the most popular artist within the SoundCloud Rap genre, defined by its languid, hazy beats and wide-ranging influences.His surging popularity was noted by the music industry and, by October 2017, he had scored a distribution agreement reportedly worth $6 million.

But his career was already being overshadowed by his legal problems. Fans were apparently unswayed, sending his latest album to number one in the US.

The tributes

The rapper, who first found fame by uploading his music onto online music platform SoundCloud, has been hailed as a breakthrough talent as tributes pour in from hip-hop luminaries in the wake of his death.

Kanye West tweeted: “I never told you how much you inspired me when you were here thank you for existing.”

While rapper Sean ‘Diddy’ Combs described XXXTentacion as “one of the most interesting people I have met.”

Among others, rapper J Cole’s tribute read: “Enormous talent and limitless potential. God bless his family, friends, and fans.”

Documentary maker Louis Theroux said: “Notwithstanding personal demons, he was a huge talent & bringing a beautiful new feel to hip hop. So sad.”

Playing College Sports: All You Need to Know

There is a wide range of college sports on offer at colleges all over the country, taking part in them is a great way to make friends while keeping fit and healthy in the process.

Opportunities to take up sports at college are plentiful and the US boasts some world-class sporting institutions. In fact, college is often the first stage on the career path of an elite athlete.

Read on to discover the benefits of playing sports at college and how to get involved.

Healthy body, healthy mind

A healthy body can lead to a healthy mind, helping you write essays without procrastinating. And the best way to achieve a healthy body is to take up a sport. Therefore, sports can help your academic performance.

Research published in the International Journal of the History of Sport found that juggling a sporting career with academic studies provides motivation for training and preparation, stimulating athletes intellectually and relieving stress.

But being active and playing sports at college won’t only have a positive impact academically; it will do wonders for your social life, too, because being part of a sports club at college will give you social skills and confidence.

Sports and social life

Sports teams and clubs at colleges often hold weekly social events where you can meet like-minded people and swap stories from the sports field. When you are part of team or club, you feel a sense of inclusion and belonging, which can really boost your self-esteem.

Once you join a sports club at college, you won’t look back. You will cherish the memories you create with your new teammates for the rest of your life. Plus, developing relationships with your teammates presents interesting networking opportunities. When you inevitably attend college reunions later in life, you will always have a good talking point to rekindle old friendships.

Employers like athletes

The skills gained from playing college sports—such as learning to focus, being part of a team and thinking on your feet—not only boost your academic performance but can also help you realise your career aspirations.

Employers look for people with the traits of an athlete: determination, drive and dedication—to name a few. For this reason, playing sports at college could help shape you into a more desirable candidate further down the line.

Always have the next step in mind. After all, you are only at college a limited length of time.

The variety of college sports

Most people imagine a roaring crowd at a football stadium when they picture college sports, but that’s only part of the story. College sports are diverse and cater for all ability levels, so don’t be put off!

Sports you can take up at college include bowling, golf, wrestling, tennis, swimming and even Frisbee. Each college is different, so be sure to check with yours, but all colleges are inclusive and encourage everyone to take part.

College sports: Key facts

Here are the main things you need to know about college sports:

  • Through various sports associations, colleges offer students the chance to compete at the varsity level
  • Some varsity athletes are eligible for sports scholarships
  • Varsity athletes must meet academic targets and requirements to retain their scholarships
  • Every student can take part in college sports—thanks to clubs and intramural leagues
  • All college athletes need strong time management skills to juggle classes and homework with practice and games

What is varsity?

In general, college varsity sports teams:

  • Represent their college
  • Play against teams from other colleges
  • Receive some funding from their athletic department

Sports associations

Several associations oversee varsity-level competition in various sports for men and women at different colleges. Among others, these include the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA), the National Junior College Athletic Association (NJCAA) and the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA).

The NCAA is the largest and most recognised college sports association. When you watch college sports on TV, you’re usually watching NCAA athletes.

Club and intramural sports

Students who don’t make the varsity teams at college, or those who don’t want the high-intensity of varsity-level, can join clubs and intramural leagues. As a result, millions of college students take part in these teams each year as a way to stay fit and have fun.

Club sports

Run by students, club teams compete against other club teams from different colleges. Students organise everything themselves from booking fixtures to arranging transport and getting uniforms. Teams can be involved in a regional conference and play for a national championship.

Intramural sports

The college sets up intramural leagues to give all students a chance to participate. Teams from the same college play each other.

The range of activities is diverse. You can take part in traditional sports, such as basketball, soccer and softball, but you can also try more unconventional sports like inner-tube water polo, dodgeball and video games.

Don Diablo

Don Diablo Announces Biggest Solo Show Ever

Don Diablo has announced his biggest solo show to date will take place on December 8, 2018.

FUTURE XL will be a one-night-only experience held at AFAS Live—the flagship concert venue in Don Diablo’s hometown of Amsterdam.

Hot off the heels of his sold-out Future tour in the US and his European Better Future tour, Don Diablo’s FUTURE XL promises to deliver a whole new level of mind-blowing production and showmanship.

To celebrate the momentous occasion, Diablo will play the longest set of his career, featuring hits Cutting Shapes, On My Mind and Chemicals, his remixes of artists such as Ed Sheeran, Coldplay, Rihanna and Madonna, as well as premiering exclusive new tunes.

“FUTURE XL will be the biggest show I have done in my career. I will be doing a very special extra long set, showcasing all of my biggest hits from the last years and premiering lots of new music in a show setting that will be my personal vision of the future,” Don Diablo said.

“I look forward to creating a memorable night that will take things to the next level with all my Hexagonians from around the world. And… last but not least: where better to do this than in my city, Amsterdam?”

Having signed his first record deal when he was just 15, Don Diablo was ranked 11th in the Top 100 DJs by DJ Mag in 2016, he was also ranked the number one Future House Artist of the Year on Beatport in the same year.

Also known as Origin Unknown and 2Faced, Don Diablo founded his own record label and event brand, Sellout Sessions, in 2005, raising his profile in his native country, the Netherlands.

Don Diablo is also known for his philanthropy; he was made the first ambassador for Dance4Life, an international UN-backed action campaign to fight against HIV and AIDS.

And his 2018 tour has a major charitable aspect—all ticket proceeds will be donated to the Dutch Cancer Charity.

Don Diablo has won several major awards including EMPO’s Producer of the Year in 2016 and WDM’s Best Remix award in 2018.

Further reading: Martin Garrix and Loopers Release Game Over

Philadelphia Eagles

Trump Cancels Philadelphia Eagles’ Visit to the White House

President Donald Trump withdrew his invitation to welcome Super Bowl champion Philadelphia Eagles to the White House Monday evening.

Several prominent team players—including safety Malcolm Jenkins and defensive end Chris Long—had announced they would not attend the meeting as a protest against Trump.

The news comes amid controversy over players standing for the National Anthem at NFL games.

“The Philadelphia Eagles are unable to come to the White House with their full team to be celebrated tomorrow,” Trump wrote in a statement.

“They disagree with their President because he insists that they proudly stand for the National Anthem, hand on heart, in honor of the great men and women of our military and the people of our country. The Eagles wanted to send a smaller delegation, but the 1,000 fans planning to attend the event deserve better.”

The President explained fans were “still invited to the White House to be part of a different type of ceremony”.

The ceremony, Trump wrote, would honor the USA, pay tribute to the heroes who fought to protect it, and loudly and proudly play the National Anthem.

“I will be there at 3 p.m. with the United States Marine Band and the United States Army Chorus to celebrate America,” he said.

It’s an unprecedented move by the President—the NBA champion, Golden State Warriors, declined an invitation from Trump to visit the White House after their 2017 championship win, but presidents usually honor their invitations to championship teams.

The debate centers on Long and Jenkins’ outspoken support of San Francisco 49ers quarterback, Colin Kaepernick, who knelt during the National Anthem to protest police brutality and racial inequality.

The NFL owners adopted a new policy on May 23 that will allow players who do not wish to stand for the National Anthem to remain in the tunnel. The NFL can also fine teams whose players do not stand and “show respect” during the anthem. Trump also said players who chose not to stand “shouldn’t be in the country”.

According to several reports, fewer than 10 players were intending to attend the White House event.

Wide receiver Torrey Smith wrote in a tweet: “There are a lot of people on the team that have plenty of different views. The men and women that wanted to go should’ve been able to go.

“It’s a cowardly act to cancel the celebration because the majority of the people don’t want to see you. To make it about the anthem is foolish.”

 

Sen. Bob Casey, a Pennsylvania Democrat, said he’s skipping the White House event, and instead invited the team to take a tour of the US Capitol.

“I’m proud of what the @Eagles accomplished this year. I’m skipping this political stunt at the White House and just invited the Eagles to Congress. @Eagles How about a tour of the Capitol?” he wrote on Twitter.

 

The team’s statement, released late Monday night, did not address Trump’s action directly:

“It has been incredibly thrilling to celebrate our first Super Bowl Championship. Watching the entire Eagles community come together has been an inspiration. We are truly grateful for all the support we have received and we are looking forward to continuing our preparations for the 2018 season.”

Further reading: Former Pittsburgh Linebacker James Harrison Announces Retirement

Lily Allen

Lily Allen Set for North American Tour

The influential British songwriter and social commentator Lily Allen will launch her latest North American tour on October 5 at The Observatory in Santa Ana, CA.

The North American tour, which the UK artist’s first in in four years, includes a show at The Fonda Theatre in Los Angeles (October 8) and a concert at New York City’s Terminal 5 (October 20).

Lily will also headline a number of UK and European festivals this summer.

Fans who pre-order Lily Allen’s upcoming album, No Shame, from her official store by midnight on June 4 will qualify for priority access to tickets for the fall tour via a pre-sale that launches on Wednesday, June 6.

Tickets will go on sale to the general public on Friday, June 8.

Today, Lily Allen shared another song from the album, the poignant Lost My Mind, which fans will receive instantly upon pre-ordering No Shame—as well as Higher, Three and Trigger Bang.

No Shame, which will be released via Warner Bros. Records on June 8, is a frank and confessional album filled with songs that address the end of Lily Allen’s marriage, her feelings about being a mother, stories of partying too hard, making friends, losing friends, and, crucially, a sense of catharsis, that she’s coming out on the other side.

“There’s no shame in anything I’m saying,” she explains, of the candor that led to the title.

In a four-star review, NME said: “[No Shame] contains some of her most candid songwriting. It’s also consistently gripping and very affecting.”

MOJO also awarded the album four stars and observed: “Allen pulls off a high-stakes comeback with aplomb.”

And Office noted: “The new music feels like Lily Allen 2.0—refined, matured, and streamlined. It’s lo-fi and bass heavy…in an age where internet warriors are relentless in trying to tear down idiosyncrasy—to shame you into being tame—it’s a blessing that Lily Allen still finds a way to come out on top.”

Lily Allen was nominated for a GRAMMY® for “Best Alternative Album” for her full-length debut, Alright, Still which was certified Gold in the US.

She has had three UK number 1 singles, two number 1 albums and has sold more than five million albums worldwide. Lily Allen was recently featured on Cigarettes and Cush from Stormzy’s acclaimed Gang Signs and Prayer.

See below for full tour dates.

Tour Dates:

June

3 – London, UK @ Mighty Hoopla*

14 – Neuchâtel, Switzerland @ Festi’neuch*

16- Ruoms, FR @ Ardeche Aluna Festival*

July

27 – Oulu, Finland @ Qstock*

August

5 – Ronquieres, BE @ Ronquieres Festival

11 – Cornwall, UK @ Boardmasters

October

5 – Santa Ana, CA @ The Observatory

6 – Oakland, CA @ The Fox Theatre

8 – Los Angeles, CA @ The Fonda Theatre

10 – Phoenix, AZ @ Marquee

12 – 14 – Austin, TX @ Austin City Limits Music Festival

16 – New Orleans, CA @ House of Blues

17 – Atlanta, GA @ Buckhead Theatre

18 – Nashville, TN @ Cannery Ballroom

20 – New York, NY @ Terminal 5

21 – Washington, DC @ The Fillmore

23 – Philadelphia, PA @ Union Transfer

24 – Boston, MA @ Paradise

27 – Montreal, QC @ Corona Theatre

28 – Toronto, ON @ The Phoenix Theatre

30 – Detroit, MI @ St. Andrews Hall

31 – Chicago, IL @ Vic Theatre

November 

1 – Minneapolis, MN @ Varsity Theatre

3 – Denver, CO @ Venue TBD

4 – Salt Lake City, UT @ Complex (Grand Ballroom)

6 – Portland, OR @ Roseland

8 – Seattle, WA @ Showbox

9 – Vancouver, BC @ Vogue Theatre

December 

2 – Milan, IT @ Fabrique

4 – Berlin, DE @ Astra

5 – Brussels, BE @ Ancienne Belgique

6 – Cologne, DE @ Live Music Hall

8 – Paris, FR @ Le Trianon

9 – Utrecht, NL @ Tivoli Vredenburg Ronda Hall

11 – Dublin, IE @ Olympia Theatre

13 – Glasgow, UK @ Barrowland

14 – Birmingham, UK @ O2 Institute

16 – Manchester, UK @ Albert Hall

17 – London, UK @ The Roundhouse

*Festival headline performance

Further reading: Ben Howard North America Tour Confirmed to Promote Noonday Dream

Girl studies for post-graduate degree with head in her books

Applying for a Post-Graduate Degree

When we get to the end of our studies, many of us are at a loss as to the next steps in our careers and our lives. At this stage, it can be tempting to apply for a post-graduate degree.

After all, more time spent at college seems like fun!

But it is vital to go into post-graduate study for the right reasons. It is important to make measured decisions and not act on impulse or whim. At the end of the day, you will be investing a lot of time and—more importantly—money in the program. And some may question if a college degree is worth the effort.

Read on for useful tips to bear in mind when contemplating to apply for post-graduate study.

Don’t rush into it

First of all, you should think about whether heading straight back into studying is the right option for you. Maybe you should take a year out to relax and earn some cash before embarking on your next challenge.

Contrary to what you might think, many employers look favorably upon those who have removed themselves from their comfort zone to work and travel abroad. It demonstrates a certain quality of independence most employers will value.

Also, don’t simply go into post-graduate study because you want to stall your entrance into the ‘real world’. You should think carefully about whether the course you intend to enrol in is going to help you with your career down the line.

Rather than undertake a post-graduate degree because you’re unsure of the next step to take, you should ask yourself: will it be worth my time and money? Where will this course get me?

On that note, if you haven’t already, make some goals and objectives.

What are your goals with a post-graduate degree?

Before making any major life decision, it is always a good idea to set out some targets and goals.

In this case, some questions to get you started could include: what are you trying to achieve from your move into post-graduate study? What do you hope to get out of it? How will this course further your career ambitions—if at all?

If you don’t know the answers to these questions, you might want to consider why you are thinking about a post-graduate degree. You should also reflect on whether you could achieve your career goals via other means.

Of course, some professions require a master’s degree or higher level of academic qualification. But others—such as journalism, business, finance and marketing—offer industry-standard qualifications at a fraction of the cost of a post-graduate degree. For this reason, think about how you can get better value for money.

Earn while you learn

Making money while studying is, for most of us, the only feasible way to fund a post-graduate degree. Therefore, it is crucial to consider if your chosen mode of study is compatible with part-time work. If not, you may struggle financially, making your degree more stressful than it needs to be.

Many post-graduate degrees offer the option of part-time study. Opting for this route will ensure you get the most out of your degree without compromising your ability to make ends meet.

Why not take a job in a café, bar or restaurant? Hospitality work can be a fun way to make new friends. You could even meet influential figures who might help you out.

Weigh up the rewards of a post-graduate degree

Think about what this course is going to do for you.

Will it help you obtain skills in employability? Or do you already possess those skills? Is the cost of the degree going to be outweighed by potential future earnings? Will you be able to pay back your loans?

All the above questions are vital when you consider a post-graduate degree. Think about their answers sensibly to avoid disappointment or a difficult financial situation later on.

Remember: be realistic about what post-graduate study is; it’s not a golden ticket to employment!

Be ready for a challenge

After you have deliberated on all of the above, if you still think a post-graduate degree is right for you, be ready to embrace a challenge.

Post-graduate study is much harder than undergraduate.

You will be expected to do more reading and researching than ever before. If you think this workload will be too tough, perhaps post-graduate study is not for you.

Think carefully about whether you are willing to devote a whole new year of your life to intense study. Post-grads are expected to explore their subjects in comprehensive depth and detail. Be prepared for this and bring your A game!

So, before you fill out that application form, consider the above tips to ensure you make an informed decision.

 

Starbucks Coffee

Does Starbucks Coffee Give You Cancer?

A California judge has ruled companies selling coffee need to warn consumers that the drink—including Starbucks coffee—is carcinogenic, since it contains the chemical acrylamide.

In a new filing, coffee companies, including Starbucks, are fighting back against the ruling.

Elihu Berle, a Los Angeles superior court judge, accused coffee companies of failing to demonstrate the carcinogen posed no significant health risk.

“Defendants failed to satisfy their burden of proving by a preponderance of evidence that consumption of coffee confers a benefit to human health,” Berle wrote.

The Council for Education and Research on Toxics—the group behind the lawsuit—wanted to penalize businesses for not warning their customers that coffee contains a carcinogenic substance.

Companies may even have to pay fines if they don’t warn customers about the cancer risk posed by acrylamide.

But the coffee industry has claimed the chemical, which is produced in the roasting process, is present at harmless levels and should be exempt from the law because it occurs naturally in the process required to make the beans flavorful.

In a new filing, the coffee companies wrote: “Coffee consumption does not increase the risk of any chronic disease and is independently associated with a decreased risk of several major chronic diseases,” according to the Wall Street Journal.

In a statement, the National Coffee Association said: “Coffee has been shown, over and over again, to be a healthy beverage. This lawsuit has confused customers, and does nothing to improve public health.”

What is Acrylamide?

Acrylamide in large quantities could be dangerous, but it’s in many foods we consume and cannot be removed from coffee.

It naturally forms when plants and grains are cooked at high temperatures.

It’s created in the process where heat transforms sugars and amino acids in ways that change flavor and tend to brown food.

Officials at the European Food Safety Authority told Business Insider: “It is likely [acrylamide] has been present in food since cooking began.”

All baking, frying and roasting produces the chemical, but only in foods derived from plants, including grains, not necessarily in meat or fish.

There is evidence to suggest it poses a risk to humans, as industrial accidents when people have inhaled large quantities of it have shown.

But the quantity found in a cup of coffee is almost negligible in comparison.

Health Benefits of Coffee

Existing research shows regular coffee drinkers have a lower risk of cancer.

A least one major review of studies found the more coffee people drink, the lower their risk for liver cirrhosis or liver cancer.

Another review of more than 200 studies found people who drank three or four cups of coffee a day were 19 percent less likely to die from cardiovascular disease.

Other research shows those who drink more coffee are less likely to suffer from dementia.

However, most of these studies have been observational, meaning it is difficult to establish cause and effect. Therefore, coffee may not be responsible for the reductions in disease risk.

Further reading: “Avocado Hand” Injuries Are on the Rise

Cancun Violence

Spring Break Threatened as Cancun Suffers Spike in Violent Crime

14 people were murdered in 36 hours in Mexico’s favorite party hotspot for young American spring breakers, Cancun, according to Noticaribe.

This is the highest number of homicides ever recorded in the country’s history within such a short period.

The figures surpass Cancun’s previous ‘record’ of nine killings in a day on November 25, 2004.

Cancun has recently become overrun with drug gangs, as violence in the tourist party town reaches unprecedented levels.

Mexico’s drug war has arrived on its idyllic beaches, with a growing crime wave threatening to leave the popular resort of Cancun a ghost town.

According to the Sun newspaper, more than 100 people have now been slaughtered in Cancun since the beginning of 2018, as Mexico’s cartels continue to spread fear throughout the country.

Most of the murders have remained unsolved.

Amid a thriving drug trade and widespread extortion, fear is rampant and threatens to have a knock-on effect on the country’s multi-billion dollar tourism industry.

Following increased violence in the popular party destination, the US have issued a ‘level 2’ advisory, which urges people to ‘exercise increased caution.’

SBS’s Dateline journalist Krishnan Guru-Murthy went out to Mexico to investigate the violence that is plaguing the nation.

“This is one of the most beautiful views in the world and we are the only people here,” Guru-Murthy said from Acapulco’s main beach.

Within hours, just before sunset, he found himself in the center of a serious crime scene—a man had been gunned down in the sand.

Guru-Murthy said he was shocked by the lack of police in some areas, with tourists unwittingly within yards of graphic crime scenes.

“It’s possible if the police don’t want anyone to notice. There’s minimum fuss and hardly any officers here,” he said.

He added: “We’ve been told that local politicians here have put the press under pressure not to report violence in this area, because if the tourists are scared away from here, it will be an economic disaster not only for Cancun, but for Mexico.”

Further reading: Man Arrested on Suspicion of SXSW Bomb Threat

Texas Bomber

Texas Bomber Kills Himself in Austin Suburb

A serial bomber had terrorized residents in Austin, Texas, for nearly three weeks. The city was paralyzed with fear; no one knew when or where the next attack would occur.

The whole situation put everyone on edge.

But now, it appears the deadly scourge of bombings has come to a close.

Early Wednesday morning, a SWAT team closed in on the suspected bomber whose lethal explosives had wreaked havoc on the lives of innocent Texans.

The bomber, Mark Anthony Conditt, an unemployed college dropout who bought bomb-making materials at Home Depot, used one of his own makeshift devices to blow himself up.

But police warned he could have planted more bombs before his death, and the cautioned the city to stay on guard.

Police tracked down the 23-year-old using store surveillance video, cell phone signals and witness accounts of a customer shipping packages in a disguise comprising a blond wig and gloves.

The suspect was eventually located at a hotel suburb north of Austin.

The serial bomber, whose motives are still unclear, had been at large for almost a month until a major breakthrough in the case this week cracked the investigation wide open.

‘Fortunately, we were able to do some digging and find this individual over the last 48 hours,’ Fred Milanowski, a special agent from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, told the Austin American-Statesman Wednesday.

The wave of bombings began March 2, when Anthony Stephen House, a 39-year-old father and athlete, was killed by a package bomb left on his front porch.

The second and third bombings occurred ten days later, on March 12, killing 17-year-old cellist Draylen Mason and critically injuring two women, including Mason’s mother. The bombs had also been placed on the victims’ doorsteps.

The fourth bomb was triggered by a tripwire strung across a sidewalk.

A fifth parcel bomb detonated early Tuesday morning at a FedEx distribution center near San Antonio.

Rep. Michael McCaul said Conditt’s ‘fatal mistake’ was walking into a FedEx store to mail a package because that allowed authorities to obtain the surveillance video that led to his apprehension.

Investigators are analysing Conditt’s internet history to discover how he learned to make bombs.

His two roommates were detained for questioning. One was later released.

For now, Texas can breathe a ‘cautious’ sigh of relief.

Further reading: Man Arrested on Suspicion of SXSW Bomb Threat 

Cambridge Analytica

Cambridge Analytica and Facebook: All You Need to Know

Tech giant Facebook and data analysis firm Cambridge Analytica are embroiled in a dispute over the harvesting and misappropriation of personal data.

The controversy centers on whether data was used to influence the outcome of the 2016 presidential election.

As a result, bipartisan consensus is calling on Facebook boss Mark Zuckerberg to testify before Congress about Cambridge Analytica’s use of data.

It’s a sensational story—involving allegations of sleaze, psychological manipulation and data misuse—that has provoked international outrage.

 But what is Cambridge Analytica? And why should its involvement with Facebook concern us?

College News investigates.

What is Cambridge Analytica?

Cambridge Analytica, a data mining, brokerage and analysis company, uses data analysis and behavioral science with strategic communication to connect its clients with their audiences.

It has been credited with helping Donald Trump to victory.

On its website, CA describes itself as: ‘the global leader in data-driven campaigning with over 25 years of experience, supporting more than 100 campaigns in five continents.

‘Our team of PHD data scientists, expert researchers, and seasoned political operatives have produced decisive results for campaigns and initiatives throughout the world.’

Its most notable work involves the 2016 US presidential election campaign, and the Leave.EU campaign for the UK’s withdrawal from the EU.

CA’s involvement in both campaigns has been highly controversial and is the subject of on-going criminal investigations in both countries.

The company is partly owned by the family of Robert Mercer, an American hedge-fund manager who supports many politically conservative causes.

It maintains offices in London, New York City and Washington, D.C.

A series of undercover investigative videos, released in March 2018, showed Cambridge Analytica’s CEO Alexander Nix bragging about using prostitutes, bribery and ‘honey traps’ to discredit politicians whom it conducts opposition research on.

Mr Nix has since claimed the videos grossly misrepresent him and he was ‘deliberately trapped.’

What is Facebook’s role?

A quiz in 2014 invited Facebook users to find out their personality types.

The quiz, which took the form of a Facebook app, was deigned and developed by Dr Aleksandr Kogan, from the University of Cambridge.

Dr Kogan, who claims he is being painted as an academic ‘scapegoat’, said he developed the ‘research app’ because he wanted the data to model human behavior through social media.

The app, called ‘This is Your Digital Life’, collected data from around 270,000 users.

As was common with Facebook apps and games at the time, it was designed to harvest not only the data of the person using it, but also their friends’ data.

Cambridge Analytica whistle-blower Christopher Wylie said, as a result, the data of about 50 million people was harvested for the analysis firm.

Both Facebook and Cambridge Analytica deny any wrongdoing.

And Facebook has since clamped down on the amount data developers can scrape in this way.

What investigations are under way?

A number of US senators, both Republican and Democrat, have called on Mark Zuckerberg to testify before Congress on how Facebook will protect users.

‘Mark Zuckerberg needs to testify under oath in public before the Judiciary Committee. He owes it to the American people who ought to be deeply disappointed by the conflicting and disparate explanations that have been offered,’ Sen. Richard Blumenthal, D-Connecticut, told reporters Monday evening.

So far Senate Judiciary Chairman Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, has not revealed what he intends to do.

Two other members of the Senate Judiciary Committee, John Neely Kennedy, R-Louisiana, and Amy Klobuchar, D-Minnesota, sent a letter on Monday to Grassley requesting a wider hearing with tech CEOs from Twitter, Facebook and Google.

The demand for greater transparency from Facebook spans multiple committees from across both chambers.

Late Monday, the chairman of the Senate Committee, John Thune, R-South Dakota, sent a letter to Zuckerberg demanding answers by March 29 about the type of user data Cambridge Analytica was able to gain access to.

The UK and European Parliament are also launching their own investigations.

How do I protect my Facebook account?

To protect your Facebook account, implement the following steps:

  • Log in to Facebook and visit the App setting page
  • Click edit button under Apps, Websites and Plugins
  • Disable platform

This will mean you won’t be able to use third-party sites on Facebook. But if that is a step too far, you can limit the personal information apps can access by:

  • Logging into Facebook’s App setting page;
  • Unclicking every category you don’t want the App to access—which includes, bio, family, religious views, posts on your timeline, activities and interests.

Other advice:

  • Never click a ‘like’ button on a product service page;
  • If you want to play games and quizzes, don’t log in through Facebook; go directly to the site.