Facebook board member Marc Andreessen is denying claims that he played any part in whistleblowing or revealing information about Facebook’s knowledge of the actions of Cambridge Analytica during the 2016 presidential campaign.
According to a report from The Observer, Andreessen hosted a meeting with Chris Wylie, a former employee of Cambridge Analytica to discuss manipulation of Facebook user data. The meeting was reportedly held at Andreessen’s workplace in 2016, right before Cambridge Analytica began their work on President Donald Trump’s presidential campaign.
The meeting was reportedly held to determine how Cambridge Analytica had gathered information from Facebook users and to discuss a potential technical fix for Facebook. Andreessen also reportedly inquired about Cambridge Analytica’s connections to Russia.
Facebook Executive’s Might Have Been Aware of Cambridge Analytica’s Actions
If The Observer is correct and the meeting did occur, it implies that executives at Facebook were aware that Cambridge Analytica was breaking platform rules by collecting data. It did this through a quiz app offered to users.
According to The Observer, Wylie was in contact with Andreessen up until the information became public.
Wylie himself blew the whistle on Cambridge Analytica’s actions in the spring of 2018.
Andreessen continues to deny his meeting with Wylie and issued the following statement:
“The suggestion that I had or hosted a meeting involving Christopher Wylie is flatly and totally untrue. I have never met Wylie in my life. After the election of 2016, a mutual colleague suggested by email that I meet with Wylie, but that meeting never took place. Later, in early 2018, Wylie reached out to me on Twitter and asked for a meeting, which I turned down.”
Facebook also denies it has any record of the meeting.
Despite Facebook’s denials, the social media company would have had to have been aware of Cambridge Analytica’s actions after The Guardian reported that the company had collected Facebook data in an effort to help the Ted Cruz presidential campaign in 2015. Facebook told The Observer that it had taken action in response to that breach of its data use policy at that time.
If the reports are true, high-level executives at Facebook were aware of what was going on years ago, but it doesn’t guarantee that Mark Zuckerberg was among those in the know.
Facebook Continues to Face Scrutiny in Light of Whistleblower Statements
This is not the first time Facebook has come under scrutiny after a whistleblower spoke out against its actions.
The social media company fired an anonymous staffer after she went public about Facebook’s plan to “demote bad content,” which she claims included “de-boosting” politically conservative live streams.
Facebook responded after the former employee spoke out, claiming that she had broken multiple employment policies and used her role as a contractor at Facebook to participate in “a stunt for Project Veritas,” which is a right-leaning investigative journalism organization.
Facebook stated her claims “validate her agenda” and that she ignored the efforts Facebook has made to ensure all users have a voice, regardless of their political ideology.