The whistleblower who revealed Cambridge Analytica breached the data of 87 million Facebook users said the company shared the information with Russia.
Christopher Wylie told a Senate panel on Wednesday that the UK firm, which was hired by President Donald Trump’s 2016 election campaign, used Russian researchers and shared the data with companies linked to Russian intelligence.
Wylie also claimed that Stephen Bannon, Cambridge Analytica’s former vice president, wanted to start a ‘culture war’.
He said Bannon, who was also Trump’s former White House chief strategist, ‘saw cultural warfare as the means to create enduring changes in American politics’.
Christopher Wylie, the whistleblower who revealed Cambridge Analytica breached the data of 87 million Facebook users, said the company shared the information with Russia. Wylie testified before the Senate Judiciary Committee on Wednesday (pictured)
‘Steve Bannon is a follower of something called the “Breitbart doctrine”, which posits that politics is downstream from culture,’ Wylie explained.
‘So if you want any lasting or enduring changes in politics, you have to focus on the culture.’
‘[Bannon] was seeking out companies that could build an arsenal of informational weapons to fight that war.’
Wylie, who testified for three hours before Congress, claims that Cambridge Analytica targeted anyone with ‘characteristics that would lead them to vote’ for Democrats and particularly focused on African American voters.
The whistleblower testified that he was aware of ‘black ops’ at the company that included ‘using hackers to break into computer systems to acquire… intelligence for its clients.’
He said the company also tested out slogans that were eventually used in Trump’s 2016 campaign and even discussed voter suppression.
‘You could request voter suppression,’ Wylie said in response to a question about tactics used in political campaigns.
‘I am aware of research that was being looked at about what motivates and indeed what demotivates certain types of people to vote.’
Wylie also claimed that Stephen Bannon, Cambridge Analytica’s former vice president, (pictured in March 2018) wanted to use information to fight a ‘culture war’
Wylie said companies who used Cambridge Analytics could request tactics that included ‘voter suppression’ by ‘weaponizing fear’
He added that one of the tactics used to interfere with voter participation included ‘weaponizing fear.’
‘In one country, CA produced videos intended to suppress turnout by showing voters sadistic images of victims being burned alive, undergoing forced amputations with machetes and having their throats cut in a ditch,’ Wylie said.
‘These videos also conveyed Islamophobic messages. It was created with a clear intent to intimidate certain communities, catalyze religious hatred, portray Muslims as terrorists and deny certain voters of their democratic rights.’
Wylie told the panel that Russian-American researcher Aleksandr Kogan, who created the application to harvest Facebook user profile data, was working at the same time on Russian-funded projects that included ‘behavioral research.’
Wylie told the panel that the app creator, Aleksandr Kogan (pictured in April 2018), was working at the same time on Russian-funded projects that included ‘behavioral research’
Wylie claims Cambridge Analytica ‘used Russian researchers to gather its data (and) openly shared information’ with companies and executives linked to the former KGB
Kogan’s app was downloaded by 270,000 Facebook users and ‘scraped’ data from an estimated 87 million people.
Wylie claims Cambridge Analytica ‘used Russian researchers to gather its data (and) openly shared information’ with companies and executives linked to the Russian intelligence agency FSB – formerly known as the KGB.
‘This means that in addition to Facebook data being accessed in Russia, there are reasonable grounds to suspect that CA may have been an intelligence target of Russian security services,’ he said.
‘Russian security services may have been notified of the existence of CA’s Facebook data.’
Facebook has said other apps may also have misused personal data and this week suspended some 200 applications as part of its investigation.
On Tuesday, the New York Times reported that the FBI and Justice Department are investigating Cambridge Analytica for potential criminal violations.
The Times said it was unclear whether the probe was linked to the one led by Special Counsel Robert Mueller, who is investigating whether the Trump campaign colluded with Russia.
Cambridge Analytica announced earlier this month it was shutting down, unable to recover from the Facebook-linked scandal.