The whistleblower behind a scandal involving data collected from millions of Facebook users warned attendees at a Vancouver conference Wednesday about the threat posed by those who harness social media for nefarious political purposes.
Christopher Wylie, a social researcher and data scientist from Victoria, B.C., spoke at Cambridge House International’s Extraordinary Future about his time as former director of research for Cambridge Analytica and its London-based affiliate SCL Group.
Wylie, 29, is known for his role as whistleblower for bombshell reports last March on Cambridge Analytica’s unauthorized collection of data from 87 million Facebook users, intended to be used in political campaigns during the 2016 U.S. presidential elections. The company closed operations in May and two weeks later Wylie testified before the Senate Judiciary Committee for a hearing on data privacy.
He described the firm’s creation by players linked to the Tea Party movement and so-called alt-right, including Steve Bannon, who was chief strategist at the White House during the first seven months of Donald Trump’s presidency, CEO Alexander Nix, and investors Robert and Rebekah Mercer.
Wylie said it was important for people to understand that Cambridge Analytica used tactics and techniques which originated from military research and development, such as those used to hamper Islamic State recruitment.
“You can either send in a drone and blow that guy up, or you can deceive, trick, confuse, create paranoia — make him leave on his quote-unquote ‘own volition’ by disseminating information or disinformation via online or rumours and all that in the temporal space,” Wylie said.
Wylie said that while there was a vast difference between the rules of engagement in elections and war, voters could be targeted in much the same way as enemies. Political campaigns working with firms like Cambridge Analytica can collect voters’ online data to identify their conspiratorial thinking or …read more
Source:: Vancouver Sun