(Bloomberg) — The whistleblower who revealed how Cambridge Analytica harvested Facebook Inc. user data to target election ads said the company could have shared that information with Russia.
Christopher Wylie, the former director of research for Cambridge Analytica and its London-based affiliate company SCL Group, said at a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on Wednesday that his company communicated with Russian firms and operatives that could have facilitated access to data from 87 million U.S. Facebook users.
This information “might have been shared or misappropriated” by Russian entities, Wylie said, because of then-Chief Executive Officer Alexander Nix’s contacts with with Russian oil company Lukoil PJSC. Wylie said Nix and Cambridge Analytica made presentations and sent documents to Lukoil, including a white paper about Cambridge Analytica’s data collection and online targeting of Americans.
FILE- In this March 29, 2018, file photo, the logo for Facebook appears on screens at the Nasdaq MarketSite in New York’s Times Square. Democrats on the House intelligence committee have released more than 3,500 Facebook ads that were created or promoted by a Russian internet agency, providing the fullest picture yet of Russia’s attempt to sow racial and political division in the United States before and after the 2016 election. Most of the ads are issue-based, pushing arguments for and against immigration, LGBT issues and gun rights. (AP Photo/Richard Drew, File)
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In this March 29, 2018, file photo, the logo for Facebook appears on screens at the Nasdaq MarketSite in New York’s Times Square.
Asked outside the hearing if he’s been questioned in Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s inquiry into Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election, Wylie replied, “All I can say is I have been contacted by the FBI.”
In his testimony, Wylie said that even if user data wasn’t explicitly given to the Russians, “the scale of the data and the location of the data was made known” in a way that would have made it relatively easy for an operative to access. He said that information could be used to create an algorithm to target Facebook users with profiles similar to those that were obtained by Cambridge Analytica.