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- Andreessen Horowitz investor and Facebook board member Marc Andreessen has denied claims he met the Cambridge Analytica whistleblower Chris Wylie in 2016.
- The Observer reported that Andreessen hosted a meeting to determine how Cambridge Analytica might be misusing people’s data.
- If true, the meeting suggests Facebook understood the extent of Cambridge Analytica’s data harvesting almost two years before the scandal broke publicly.
- But Andreessen says he’s never met Wylie, and Facebook said it had no record of the meeting.
A prominent Silicon Valley investor and Facebook board member has denied claims that he met with a Cambridge Analytica representative as early as 2016.
The Observer reported that Marc Andreessen, a founding partner at VC firm Andreessen Horowitz and current Facebook board member, hosted a meeting with former Cambridge Analytica employee Chris Wylie over concerns about the way the political consultancy was manipulating people’s data.
The meeting, the newspaper reported, took place at Andreessen Horowitz’s offices in 2016, just as Cambridge Analytica began work on Donald Trump’s presidential campaign.
The meeting, if it took place, would imply that Facebook was aware at its most senior levels that Cambridge Analytica was breaking its platform rules and hoovering up huge amounts of personal data through a quiz app.
Wylie himself would go on to detail how this worked when he blew the whistle on Cambridge Analytica in March 2018. According to the report, Andreessen stayed in touch with Wylie right up until he went public.
The impetus for the meeting was reportedly to find out how Cambridge Analytica was getting hold of people’s information, and to work out a technical fix from Facebook’s side. Andreessen was also reportedly interested in any connections between Cambridge Analytica and Russia.
But Andreessen has denied ever meeting Wylie. He said in a 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.”
Business Insider has asked a representative for Andreessen Horowitz whether the investor ever met others from Cambridge Analytica.
Facebook told The Observer it had “no record” of such a meeting.
It is true, however, that Facebook would have been aware of Cambridge Analytica’s activities as early as 2015, when The Guardian reported how the company had hoovered up Facebook data to support Ted Cruz’s campaign.
Facebook told The Observer: “Facebook was not aware of the transfer of data from Kogan/GSR [Kogan’s business Global Science Research] to Cambridge Analytica until December 2015. When Facebook learned about Kogan’s breach of Facebook’s data use policies, we took action.”
Wylie did not immediately respond to Business Insider’s request for comment.