Brexit battle 'not swung by data pilfered from 87m Facebook users'

Facebook told a Commons probe that the wild theory pushed by whistleblowers and MPs was untrue and controversial data firm Cambridge Analytica was not directly involved in the 2016 referendum.


But the tech giant sparked fresh uproar by admitting it will take another year to begin regulating political adverts – after a top boss was hauled to Parliament for a testy five-hour roasting.

The companies are involved in investigations into how Facebook data may have been misused to help political campaigns target advertising on social media.

Facebook admitted last month that Cambridge Analytica had scrapped the data of millions and users and were accused of using it to help put Donald Trump in the White House.

But Facebook’s chief technical officer Mike Schroepfer told the Commons Fake News inquiry they had found no records showing the Cambridge Analytica data used during the Brexit battle.


That flew in the face of previous evidence from a “whistleblower” and former employee Christopher Wyllie who had suggested to MPs it had been shared with Canadian firm Aggregate IQ – who were hired by the victorious Vote Leave campaign.

Facebook said they could only find vague ties between the firms, but no evidence that data had been exploited.

Mr Wyllie’s claims had been seized on by Remainers to suggest the result of the referendum was was invalid.

Pro-EU Labour MP Ben Bradshaw said last month said Mr Wyllie’s claims “must raise questions over the legitimacy of the EU Referendum result.”

Last night former Vote Leave boss Dominic Cummings said Facebook’s evidence “proves exactly” that the “conspiracy theory” was “factually wrong”.

But during a five-hour session, Facebook was slammed by MPs.

Tory Julian Knight hit out: “Bullying journalists, intimidating academic institutions, impeding legal inquiries, there’s a pattern of behaviour.

"Is Facebook a morality-free zone?”

The showdown came as Brussels also told social media giants like Facebook to clean up their act on fake news by the end of the year or face fresh regulations.

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