Victoria man at the centre of international media storm involving Facebook


WATCH: The CEO of a political consulting firm at the centre of an international firestorm has been suspended.  British investigators are accusing the Cambridge Analytica company of misusing personal information mined from Facebook to impact and influence elections. It’s a scandal sparked by a whistleblower who grew up right here in Victoria. Mary Griffin reports.

The latest social media appearance by Christopher Wylie was during a Facebook live discussion on Tuesday.

The former Victoria resident is now at the centre of a media storm around the world.

Wylie’s former employer is the subject of intense scrutiny.  He blew the whistle on the political consulting firm, Cambridge Analytica, accusing it of misusing the personal information from millions of Facebook users to manipulate voters during the 2016 U.S. election.

Victoria Coun. Chris Coleman knew Wylie as a member of Victoria’s youth council in 2005.

“He was committed to making the place better, particularly for youth,” Coleman said.  While in Grade 10 at Glenlyon-Norfolk School, Wylie developed a region-wide survey meant to engage young people in local politics.

“I believe I wrote a letter of reference for him to go and work in Ottawa as an intern,” Coleman said.

“And he was a very, very bright, very earnest young man who wanted to make his communities better.”

During an interview with Britain’s Channel Four news, Wylie explains how the data mining works.   “We were able to get upwards of 50 million plus Facebook records in the span of a couple of months.” When asked how many people were aware their profiles were being used in that way, Wylie said “almost none.”

The company is now under investigation by the United Kingdon’s Information Commissioner after executives bragged about influencing politics during an undercover operation by Channel 4 News.   The company’s CEO Alexander Nix explained how the company undermined opponents.

“We’ll send some girls around to the candidate’s house, we have lots of history of things,” Nix told a reporter.

“We’re not satisfied with the cooperation we getting from Cambridge Analytics, so the next step is for us to apply to the court,” U.K.’s Information Commissioner Elizabeth Denham said. Canada’s Privacy Commissioner has also launched an investigation into Facebook over Cambridge Analytica.


Mary GriffinMary Griffin

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