The former Cambridge Analytica staffer who blew the whistle on the company’s misuse of users’ Facebook data said it’s possible that many more than the reported 87 million profiles were accessed.
“I think that it could be higher. Absolutely,” said Cambridge Analytica co-founder Christopher Wylie when asked whether the number could be greater than 87 million.
“In terms of how many people had access to the Facebook data or derivatives of that data, I couldn’t tell you, because it was a lot of people,” Wylie told NBC News’ “Meet the Press” moderator Chuck Todd in an interview that will air Sunday.
Facebook reported earlier this week that Cambridge Analytica obtained access to 37 million more user profiles than the 50 million originally reported. CEO Mark Zuckerberg will be testifying before Congress next week.
Wylie was one of the main sources in the bombshell New York Times and Observer of London investigation that found that Cambridge Analytica had obtained information on tens of millions of Facebook users through an academic researcher, a method that violated Facebook’s term of service. But the data firm — which boasted of its ability to extrapolate personality types from user data and target Facebook feeds with specifically tailored ads — never deleted the data after Facebook discovered the violation in 2015.
In his “Meet the Press” interview, Wylie says the data “could be stored in various parts of the world, including Russia.” He added that “it’s not watertight to say that we can ensure that all the data is gone forever.”
Cambridge Analytica conducted work for President Donald Trump’s campaign, but the White House has downplayed those efforts. The company also claims that none of the data were used during its work on the 2016 election.
Some of the biggest fallout from the scandal has hit Facebook, where the social network has been lambasted by lawmakers on both sides of the Atlantic and seen its stock prices dive over concerns that tighter regulation could be in store.
“That was a huge mistake, and it was my mistake,” Zuckerberg said on a call with reporters Wednesday, part of his media blitz in the aftermath of the news.