Expert: Brexit campaign used data mined from FB
The computer expert who alleges a trove of Facebook data was improperly used to help Donald Trump’s White House bid said Tuesday that he strongly believes the information was also used by the Brexit movement that persuaded Britain to quit the European Union.
In a 31/2-hour hearing, Chris Wylie told the House of Commons media committee that he believes the breach exceeded the 50 million Facebook users reported earlier – though he didn’t give an exact figure. And he said the data compiled by the political consulting business Cambridge Analytica was available to other firms with links to it.
“All kinds of people had access to the data,” said Wylie, who helped develop Cambridge Analytica’s methods for using the information to target and persuade voters. “It was everywhere.”
Among the companies that had access to the data was AggregateIQ, a Canadian political consultant that did work for Vote Leave, the official campaign backing Britain’s withdrawal from the EU, Wylie said.
Wylie described Cambridge Analytica as just one arm of a global company, SCL Group, that gets most of its income from military contracts but is also a political gun-for-hire, often in countries where democratic institutions are weak. He suggested the company combines computer algorithms and dirty tricks to help candidates win regardless of the cost.
The 28-year-old Canadian with a swath of pink hair says he helped set up Cambridge Analytica in 2013. He left the next year.
Wylie has previously alleged that Cambridge Analytica used personal data improperly collected from Facebook users to help Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign.
Cambridge Analytica says none of the Facebook data was used in its work on the Trump campaign. It denies any wrongdoing.