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CEO of Cambridge Analytica Alexander Nix speaks at the 2016 Concordia Summit in New York, September 19, 2016.Image: Getty Images for Concordia SummitBy Rachel Thompson2018-03-20 11:08:05 UTC

The Cambridge Analytica saga has taken yet another dramatic and frankly alarming turn. 
Facebook sent a “digital forensics team” into Cambridge Analytica’s (CA) London office on Monday evening in an attempt to “secure evidence,” only to be kicked out following a “dramatic intervention” by the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO), the UK’s data regulator. 
Following its intervention, the ICO announced it was seeking a warrant to search CA’s premises and Facebook’s so-called “audit” could “potentially compromise a regulatory investigation.”

The Facebook-ICO showdown was live-tweeted by Guardian investigative journalist Carole Cadwalladr, author of the explosive report in which “data war whistleblower” Christopher Wylie revealed his role in “hijacking the profiles” of 50 million Facebook users during the U.S. election.

BREAKING: Facebook WAS inside Cambridge Analytica’s office but have now “stood down” following dramatic intervention by UK Information Commissioner’s Office..
— Carole Cadwalladr (@carolecadwalla) March 19, 2018

“To be clear, Facebook was trying to “secure evidence” ahead of the UK authorities. Nice try, Facebook. The UK Information Commissioner’s Office cracking whip…British legal investigation MUST take precedence of US multibillion $ company,” Cadwalladr continued. 

To be clear, @facebook was trying to “secure evidence” ahead of the UK authorities. Nice try, @facebook. The UK Information Commissioner’s Office cracking whip…British legal investigation MUST take precedence over US multibillion $ company.. https://t.co/CNNXwv1M3R
— Carole Cadwalladr (@carolecadwalla) March 19, 2018

Facebook confirmed in a statement that it had hired a team of “independent forensic auditors” from Stroz Friedberg who were “on site at Cambridge Analytica’s London office” on Monday evening. 
“At the request of the UK Information Commissioner’s Office, which has announced it is pursuing a warrant to conduct its own on-site investigation, the Stroz Friedberg auditors stood down,” read Facebook’s statement, published at 22:25 p.m. GMT. 
In an earlier statement, Facebook said the “digital forensics firm” had been enlisted to “conduct a comprehensive audit” of CA, who had agreed to give “complete access to their servers and systems.” 
The ICO, meanwhile, was in the process of requesting a warrant to raid CA’s HQ and seize servers which—per an ICO statement—could have been compromised by Facebook’s search on Monday. 
As this unfolded, political journalists took to Twitter to raise concerns about Facebook’s presence in the CA office, particularly given that Facebook is implicated in the controversy. 
“How can Facebook be allowed into Cambridge Analytica’s office right now when they are an implicated party and the Information Commissioner is seeking a warrant tomorrow for her staff to go in there?” wrote Channel 4 News political correspondent Michael Crick on Twitter. 
“What if they [Facebook] come across evidence that incriminates Facebook: will they just leave it there for the authorities to find?” wrote the Guardian’s Jonathan Freedland. 

Are we meant to be reassured that Facebook are sending in their own crack team to Cambridge Analytica HQ? What if they come across evidence that incriminates Facebook: will they just leave it there for the authorities to find?
— Jonathan Freedland (@Freedland) March 19, 2018

Best to leave the investigating to the authorities, Facebook. 

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