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FACEBOOK CAMBRIDGE ANALYTICA: Canadian company played role in US elections – Whistleblower

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Facebook data scandal widens as Canadian company accused of helping target U.S. voters

LONDON (Reuters) – A scandal engulfing Facebook over the use of its data by political consultants widened on Tuesday when a whistleblower said Canadian company AggregateIQ had developed a program to target Republican voters in the 2016 U.S. election.

Christopher Wylie, who previously revealed that consultancy Cambridge Analytica had accessed the data of 50 million Facebook users to build voter profiles on behalf of Donald Trump’s campaign, said AggregateIQ (AIQ) had built software called Ripon to profile voters.

Wylie was giving evidence to a British parliamentary committee over the scandal, minutes after Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg declined to appear before the legislators to discuss what went wrong.

The head of the committee called Zuckerberg’s decision “astonishing” and urged him to think again.

CNN said Zuckerberg had decided to testify before the U.S. Congress.

The revelations around Facebook data have hammered the stock price of the world’s biggest social network and raised investor concerns that any failure by big tech companies to protect privacy could deter advertisers and lead to tougher regulation.

“There’s now tangible proof in the public domain that AIQ actually built Ripon, which is the software that utilized the algorithms from the Facebook data,” Wylie told the British Parliament’s Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Committee.

Facebook is facing intense scrutiny after Wylie’s revelations about improper use of personal data and the role that could have played in the 2016 U.S. election.

Zuckerberg apologized last week for the mistakes Facebook had made and promised tougher steps to restrict third-party access to such information.

Ripon, the Wisconsin town where the Republican Party was founded in 1854, was the name given to a tool that let a campaign manage its voter database, target specific voters, conduct canvassing, manage fundraising and carry out surveys.

AggregateIQ did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the remarks. The company previously told Reuters that it had never been and is not a part of Cambridge Analytica nor ever entered into a contract with Cambridge Analytica.

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