Christopher Wylie, the 29-year-old data scientist
who exposed Facebook's giant data breach, has
revealed he has been physically assaulted and
followed since blowing the whistle.
told Business Insider how his life has transformed
since going public with evidence that Cambridge
Analytica weaponised the data of 50 million
Facebook users during the 2016 US presidential
helped build what he describes as "[Trump advisor]
Steve Bannon's psychological warfare mindf--k
tool," which exploited Cambridge Analytica's haul
of Facebook data. But this was not the reason he
said it was this that made him vulnerable to
attack. Some of the abuse he has encountered has
been reported to the police, while a risk
assessment was also carried out on the
whistleblower. It all means he has to take certain
precautions when he is out in public.
been physically assaulted several times in the
street. Somebody once pushed me into traffic. I've
been followed into gay clubs, for example, where
alt-right blogs would send photographers to take
pictures of me," he said. "That has been not
necessarily the easiest to deal with but, again,
you start to actually just get used to it."
Prior to going public in March, which he did throughinterviews
with The ObserverandThe New
Wylie said he was a private person. Now, his shock
of pink hair, nose ring, and countless media
appearances have made him an easily recognisable
my coming out, as it were, I was very much a
private person. Almost had never done any kind of
media, anything before," he said after being named
in the UK Tech 100. "Once the story came out, and
blew up in the way that it did, I had to let go of
that old habit, and embrace the fact that people
want to talk about it, and talk to me about it."
"unique" look, as he describes it, was actually
discussed prior to the story going live. He
thought about stripping the pink from his hair and
removing his piercings, but decided that his
identity as a gay man should be part of his
important that queer people get visibility,
particularly when they look, act, and speak in the
way that they're comfortable with," he continued.
"For me, that was important."
evidence thrust Facebook into a tsunami of
scandal, wiping $60 billion off the company's
value and forcing CEO Mark Zuckerberg into a media
apology tour, which has evolved into a global
comfortable with Cadwalladr's moniker,
particularly as he hopes to inspire a new
generation of whistleblowers to come forward and
expose corruption. "It's important that people see
that you can be a whistleblower and you can be
different," he explained.
Victoria, Canada, Wylie now lives in London. He is
coy about how he earns a living but said he does
consulting work for "different authorities in
different jurisdictions" to help them identify
blind spots on emerging technologies.
he could see himself policing data misuse in the
future and bringing companies like Cambridge
Analytica to justice, he said: "Do I see myself
being a data cop in the future? I don't know.
Probably not. At the moment, I am helping quite a
few authorities and investigations more broadly."