Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg is under fire as outrage over a data breach that may have helped get Donald Trump elected continues to spiral out of control.
Christopher Wylie, a Canadian data expert, is at the heart of the social media scandal. On Monday, Wylie went public saying that a data firm used by Trump’s election team illegally “harvested” Facebook user info to help build voter profiles.
Wylie, 28, lived in B.C. before moving to the U.S. where he worked as a research director for Cambridge Analytica, a company that uses social media data to help politicians get elected. It’s run by hedge fund billionaire Robert Mercer who worked closely with Steve Bannon, the former executive chairman of Breitbart News Network who ran Trump’s 2016 presidential bid.
In going public, Wylie explained the shady data harvesting techniques used by Cambridge Analytica in the Trump campaign.
“We spent a million dollars harvesting tens of millions of Facebook profiles and those profiles were used as the basis of the algorithims that became the foundation of Cambridge Analytica itself. The company itself was founded on using Facebook data … They had apps on Facebook that were given special permission from not just the person who uses the app… but it would go into their entire friends network and pull out all their friends’ data as well … I do feel responsible for it and it’s something that I regret.”
Everyone from the president on down is denying that they misused Facebook data from Cambridge Analytica. Trump’s campaign manager claimed the president’s election team used material from the Republican National Committee database, not Facebook. And, just as the story was breaking, Facebook said they “reject any suggestion of violation of the consent decree. We respected the privacy settings that people had in place. Privacy and data protections are fundamental to every decision we make.”