He Blew Whistle on Facebook, Makes Big Brexit Allegation

Former Cambridge Analytica employee contends data could have swayed Brexit vote
By Kate Seamons,  Newser Staff
Posted Mar 28, 2018 6:07 AM CDT
He Blew Whistle on Facebook, Makes Big Brexit Allegation
Whistleblower Christopher Wylie who alleges that the campaign for Britain to leave the EU cheated in the referendum in 2016, speaking at a lawyers office to the media in London, Monday, March 26, 2018.   (AP Photo/Alastair Grant)

Facebook has been in a tailspin since Christopher Wylie blew the whistle on Cambridge Analytica's use of user data, and on Tuesday, he made a massive allegation across the pond. During his lengthy testimony before a British House of Commons committee, the 28-year-old former Cambridge Analytica employee suggested the user information gleaned from Facebook also helped swing the Brexit vote. He said Canadian political consultant AggregateIQ (AIQ) both worked on the official pro-Brexit "Vote Leave" campaign and had access to the data; he "absolutely" believes the data was used by AIQ, reports the AP. In its report, the New York Times describes Wylie colorfully: as a "a cerebral skate-rat" and a "pink-haired, nose-ringed oracle sent from the future to explain data."

  • But it also picks up his strong words: "I think it is completely reasonable to say that there could have been a different outcome of the referendum had there not been, in my view, cheating." He alleges the work AIQ did was in violation of campaign financing law, reports Politico.
  • The Guardian explains that allegation: that Vote Leave handed £625,000 to BeLeave, money which was then paid to AIQ. Vote Leave's total spend was £6.77 million, but if that payment is taken into account, it is in excess of the £7 million limit. The BBC reports that Vote Leave contends it got the OK from the Electoral Commission to donate that sum to BeLeave.
  • The CBC reports the allegation doesn't pave the way for a do-over, though it could provide "some traction in the court of public opinion." Per one expert on British electoral law, overspending can result in a fine, or potentially a criminal investigation into alleged fraud.
  • In Wylie's telling, AIQ wasn't so much a client of Cambridge Analytica as a "department"—he says it was born out of a planned expansion of Cambridge Analytica, but didn't go quite that far because the Canadians running AIQ didn't want to move to Britain. He described AIQ as "a company that can do virtually everything that (Cambridge Analytica) can do but with a different billing name." AIQ disputes the characterization.
(More Brexit stories.)

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