Who is Christopher Wylie, the man who rocked the world’s big democracies?
The Cambridge Analytica (CA) episode has rocked some of the big democracies in the world and has also put popular social media platform Facebook in a spot.
But in this episode, it is Christopher Wylie, the 28-year-old whistleblower, who demands more attention, just like people like Julian Assange and Edward Snowden.
Born to physicians Dr Kevin Wylie and Dr Joan Carruthers, in British Columbia, Canada, Christopher had dropped out of high school at the age of 16 but started working for Michael Ignatieff, a Canadian politician, within a year. The intelligent teenager, who was once diagnosed with dyslexia and ADHD (attention deficit hyperactivity disorder), learned the art of coding by the time he was 19 and by 20, he got himself enrolled at the London School of Economics as a law student.
Christopher came in touch with the Strategic Communication Laboratories Group (SCL) with the help of his political connections.
In 2013, Strategic Communication Laboratories Elections, a subsidy of SCL, would form Cambridge Analytica with Christopher's help.
Making people's profiles from Facebook politically enticing
A gay vegan, Christopher was only 24 when he came up with an idea that led to the formation of CA. He sought to cultivate Facebook profiles of millions of Americans and use their personal information to make psychological profiles. Later, he would target them politically to work on their psychological network. It soon became a handy tool for the political forces to influence their fortunes in elections.
CA played a major role as a data analytics firm in the Brexit campaign ahead of the June 2016 referendum and then in President Donald Trump's electoral campaign the same year.
In 2018, Christopher blew the lid off CA by producing documents that showed the CA was gathering user data to make racial and ethnic profiles to influence voting patterns before key elections. It was said that the data were being collected without taking the user's consent.
Christopher recently testified before the UK Parliament and produced more details about the way CA functioned, including its questionable involvement in India's electoral practices.
Even a regional party like Janata Dal(United) was alleged to have used CA or its parent firm SCL's data for electoral gains. Christopher described the CA's presence and working in India as something similar to "modern colonialism".