LONDON — Christopher Wylie played a big role in building one of the most effective political weapons of the digital age. Now he’s trying to make amends.
The 28-year-old London-based Canadian is defying a non-disclosure agreement to blow the whistle on his former employer Cambridge Analytica, the controversial political analytics firm known for its work on Donald Trump’s presidential campaign in the U.S. and Uhuru Kenyatta’s in Kenya. He says the U.K.-based company, which he helped found in 2013, has built a powerful software program to predict and influence the choices of voters by using data harvested from 50 million leaked Facebook profiles.
The data was collected by an app called thisisyourdigitallife, owned by the Cambridge-based academic Aleksandr Kogan, which was downloaded by about 270,000 people. Users were paid to take a personality test, which they were told would be used for academic research. They might not have known that it also harvested information on their Facebook friends, creating a vast data set that was ultimately sold by Kogan to Cambridge Analytica.
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