Aleksandr Kogan

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Aleksandr Kogan
Born 1985/1986 (age 32–33)[1]
Moldavian SSR, Soviet Union (now Moldova)
Nationality American[2]
Education University of California, Berkeley (BA)
University of Hong Kong (MA, PhD)
Occupation CEO 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 data scientist, who is known for having developed the app that allowed Cambridge Analytica to collect personal details of 80 million Facebook users. He works as a research associate at the University of Cambridge.[4]

Early life[edit]

Kogan was born in what was then the Moldavian SSR in the USSR (now Moldova).[5][3] His father is Jewish.[6] 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][7]


Kogan had a post-doctoral fellowship at the University of Toronto before moving to Cambridge.[7] 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.[8] His page there states, "My lab investigates the prosociality and well-being from biological, psychological, and cross-cultural perspectives".[4][1] Kogan is the CEO and founder of Philometrics, another big data analytics firm.[9][10]

Kogan developed the app that allowed Cambridge Analytica to collect personal details of 80 million Facebook users.[5] 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.[5][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.[11][5] During his time at Cambridge, he had an active collaboration and was a consultant for Facebook.[12]

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.[13][14] He declared this affiliation to the university but seemed to have concealed it from his colleagues at Cambridge University.[3] He also received funding for research from UK, US, Canadian, and Chinese governments.[6]

Personal life[edit]

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


  1. ^ a b c O'Sullivan, Donie. "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. ^ a b "Dr Aleksandr Kogan :: Cambridge Neuroscience". Retrieved 21 March 2018.
  5. ^ 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.
  6. ^ a b Aleksandr Kogan speaks!. News From Underground. March 21, 2018.
  7. ^ a b Adams, Richard (20 March 2018). "Cambridge University asks Facebook for evidence about role of academic". the Guardian. Retrieved 21 March 2018.
  8. ^ "Statement from the University of Cambridge about Dr Aleksandr Kogan". University of Cambridge. 23 March 2018.
  9. ^ "Philometrics". Retrieved 14 April 2018.
  10. ^ "Aleksandr Kogan: 5 Fast Facts You Need to Know". Retrieved 14 April 2018.
  11. ^ "Scientist: Didn't know data used to target voters". CNN.
  12. ^ "Aleksandr Kogan: The link between Cambridge Analytica and Facebook". CBSnews. Retrieved 25 April 2018.
  13. ^ Cohen, Marshall (21 March 2018). "Cambridge Analytica researcher touted data-mining in Russia speech". Retrieved 22 March 2018.
  14. ^ Cadwalladr, Carole (17 March 2018). "Cambridge Analytica: links to Moscow oil firm and St Petersburg university". Retrieved 22 March 2018.