Chris Wylie, the former Cambridge Analytica employee turned whistleblower whose revelations about Facebook data being misused for political campaigning has wiped billions off the share price of the company in recent days and led to the FTC opening a fresh investigation, has suggested the scale of the data leak is substantially larger than has been reported so far. Giving evidence today, to a UK parliamentary select committee that’s investigating the use of disinformation in political campaigning, Wylie said: “The 50 million number is what the media has felt safest to report — because of the documentation that they can rely on — but my recollection is that it was substantially higher than that. So my own view is it was much more than 50M.” We’ve reached out to Facebook about Wylie’s claim — but at the time of writing the company had not provided a response. “There were several iterations of the Facebook harvesting project,” Wylie also told the committee, fleshing out the process through which he says users’ data was obtained by CA. “It first started as a very small pilot — firstly to see, most simply, is this data matchable to an electoral register… We then scaled out slightly to make sure that [Cambridge University professor Alexsandr Kogan] could acquire data in the speed that he said he could [via a personality test app called thisisyourdigitallife deployed via Facebook’s platform]. So the first real pilot of it was a sample of 10,000 people who joined the app — that was in late May 2014. “That project went really well and that’s when we signed a much larger contract with GSR [Kogan’s company] in the first week of June… 2014. Where the app went out and collected surveys and people joined the app throughout the summer of 2014.” The personal information the app was able to obtain via Facebook formed the “foundational dataset” underpinning both CA and its targeting models, according to Wylie. “This is what built the company,” he claimed. “This was the foundational dataset that then was modeled to create the algorithms.” Facebook has previously confirmed 270,000 people downloaded Kogan’s app — a data harvesting route which, thanks to the lax structure of Facebook’s APIs at the time, enabled the foreign political consultancy firm to acquire information on more than 50 million Facebook users, according to the Observer, the vast majority of whom would have had no idea their data had…

Source: TechCrunch – Social Facebook data misuse scandal affects “substantially” more than 50M, claims Wylie