The same MP who asked about India earlier went back to Facebook’s “biggest user market”.
“But when you work for senior politicians in a lot of these countries you don’t actually make money in the electoral work, you make money in the influence brokering after the fact – and that a deal went sour”.
He said that Aggregate IQ, which he labelled a “shell company” of Cambridge Analytica, had been involved in sending violent and intimidating videos to voters in Nigeria in an attempt to swing an election.
The explosive comments will add to concerns about the actions of the company he worked for, after it was reported they have bragged about interfering in foreign elections. He further said that the company had offices and staff in the country. “I believe I have some documentation on India, which I can also provide to the committee if that’s something of interest”.
“I also heard that the police had got bribed not to enter the hotel room for 24 hours”. New York Times columnist Kevin Roose, speaking on that paper’s The Daily podcast, likened Facebook’s challenge to one of those cartoons where men are building tracks for a train as it’s hurtling along behind them. A wave of backlash ensued, Facebook’s stock plummeted, and the Federal Trade Commission is now investigating the company. A summons letter had been sent to Zuckerberg by Damian Collins, the chair of DCMS.
Meanwhile, the chief law enforcement officers for 37 USA states and territories are demanding to know when Facebook learned of the breach.
Mr Warner repeated calls for Mr Zuckerberg to testify in person before United States policymakers, saying Facebook and other internet companies had been reluctant to confront “the dark underbelly of social media” and how it can be manipulated.
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The DCMS, which is now hearing oral evidence as part of its inquiry, is likely to hear from one of the Facebook executives after the Parliament’s Easter recess, which ends April 16. “People knowingly provided their information, no systems were infiltrated, and no passwords or sensitive pieces of information were stolen or hacked”, it said in a statement.
Cambridge Analytica has faced a series of allegations of wrongdoing since Mr Wylie came forward to claim the company had collected data from millions of Facebook profiles users without their knowledge.
People took to Twitter to express their dismay.
The ICO is also investigating Cambridge Analytica’s involvement in campaigning around the referendum on Britain’s exit from the EU.
Wylie personally supported the “Leave” campaign, as he told the committee, but was troubled by what he viewed as threats to the democratic process.
He said he eventually chose to speak out after US President Donald Trump’s shock election victory, which he partly attributed to the misuse of personal data for political purposes. “This was a breach of trust, and I’m sorry we didn’t do more at the time”.
The timing of the work suggests that the £42,000 ($59,000) contract was signed after the Information Commissioner’s Office, the UK’s data watchdog, opened an investigation into the use of data analytics for political purposes that has focused on Cambridge Analytica’s work. The recordings were made during a series of meetings at London hotels between November 2017 and January 2018.