Aleksandr Kogan

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Aleksandr Kogan
Born1985/1986 (age 35–36)[1]
EducationUniversity of California, Berkeley (BA)
University of Hong Kong (MA, PhD)
OccupationCEO of Philometrics, psychologist and data scientist, University of Cambridge

Aleksandr Kogan (born 1985/86), who has also briefly used the name Dr Spectre,[3] is a Moldovan-born American data scientist, who is known for having developed the app that allowed Cambridge Analytica to collect personal details of 80 million Facebook users.[4] He worked as a research associate at the University of Cambridge.[5]

Early life[edit]

Kogan was born in what was then the Moldavian SSR in the USSR (now independent Moldova).[6][3] His father is Jewish.[7] He lived in Moscow before moving to the United States aged seven.[3] He earned a bachelor's degree from the University of California, Berkeley in 2008, and a PhD from the University of Hong Kong in 2011.[3][8]


Kogan had a post-doctoral fellowship at the University of Toronto before moving to Cambridge.[8] He has been a lecturer in the Department of Psychology at the University of Cambridge since 2012, after which he became a Senior Research Associate until 2018.[9] His page there states, "My lab investigates the prosociality and well-being from biological, psychological, and cross-cultural perspectives".[5][1] Kogan is the CEO and founder of Philometrics, another big data analytics firm.[10][11]

Kogan has also had an affiliation with the University of St. Petersburg in Russia, receiving funding for research on social media data mining and giving at least three lectures (in Russian) there since 2014.[12][13] He declared this affiliation to the university, which nevertheless contributed to allegations that he was a Russian spy.[3][14] He also received funding for research from UK, US, Canadian, and Chinese governments.[7]

Cambridge Analytica[edit]

Kogan developed the app, named "This Is Your Digital Life," that allowed Cambridge Analytica to collect personal details of 80 million Facebook users.[6] Interviewed by BBC Radio 4's Today programme and by CNN, he said that he was being used as a scapegoat by Facebook and Cambridge Analytica.[6][1] Kogan said that he didn't know they would use the data to target voters, and attempted to downplay the potential efficacy of micro-targeting using the data he collected.[15][6] During his time at Cambridge, he had an active collaboration and was a consultant for Facebook.[16]

FTC settlement[edit]

In 2019 Kogan and Cambridge Analytica CEO Alexander Nix settled with the Federal Trade Commission over allegations that they used deceptive tactics to collect personal information from tens of millions of Facebook users for voter profiling and targeting, and agreed to delete previously obtained data.[17]

Personal life[edit]

Kogan was "temporarily known as Aleksandr Spectre" in 2015.[3]


  1. ^ a b c O'Sullivan, Donie (20 March 2018). "Scientist at center of data controversy says Facebook is making him a scapegoat". Retrieved 21 March 2018.
  2. ^ Horwitz, Josh. "Cambridge Analytica's key researcher says his work's impact on elections is "not a real worry"". Quartz. Retrieved 26 April 2018.
  3. ^ a b c d e f "Who is Dr Aleksandr Kogan, the Cambridge academic accused of misusing Facebook data?". Retrieved 21 March 2018.
  4. ^ Meredith, Sam (2018-04-10). "Facebook-Cambridge Analytica: A timeline of the data hijacking scandal". CNBC. Retrieved 2021-02-27.
  5. ^ a b "Dr Aleksandr Kogan :: Cambridge Neuroscience". Retrieved 21 March 2018.
  6. ^ a b c d Weaver, Matthew (21 March 2018). "Facebook scandal: I am being used as scapegoat – academic who mined data". the Guardian. Retrieved 21 March 2018.
  7. ^ a b Aleksandr Kogan speaks!. News From Underground. March 21, 2018.
  8. ^ a b Adams, Richard (20 March 2018). "Cambridge University asks Facebook for evidence about role of academic". the Guardian. Retrieved 21 March 2018.
  9. ^ "Statement from the University of Cambridge about Dr Aleksandr Kogan". University of Cambridge. 23 March 2018.
  10. ^ "Philometrics". Retrieved 14 April 2018.
  11. ^ "Aleksandr Kogan: 5 Fast Facts You Need to Know". 19 March 2018. Retrieved 14 April 2018.
  12. ^ Cohen, Marshall (21 March 2018). "Cambridge Analytica researcher touted data-mining in Russia speech". Retrieved 22 March 2018.
  13. ^ Cadwalladr, Carole (17 March 2018). "Cambridge Analytica: links to Moscow oil firm and St Petersburg university". Retrieved 22 March 2018.
  14. ^ Mac, Ryan (22 April 2018). "Cambridge Analytica Data Scientist Aleksandr Kogan Wants You To Know He's Not A Russian Spy". Retrieved 20 July 2020.
  15. ^ "Scientist: Didn't know data used to target voters". CNN.
  16. ^ "Aleksandr Kogan: The link between Cambridge Analytica and Facebook". CBSnews. Retrieved 25 April 2018.
  17. ^ "Aleksandr Kogan and Alexander Nix, In the Matter of". Federal Trade Commission. 24 July 2019.