A top Facebook executive said there’s no evidence that Russia influenced the Brexit referendum result, prompting a backlash from some British lawmakers and critics of the tech giant.
Nick Clegg, the former British deputy prime minister who currently serves as the social network’s head of global policy and communications, said the company’s internal investigations did not find proof that misuse of the social network impacted the Brexit vote — unlike when the company conducted a similar inquiry for the U.S. presidential election.
“We ran two full analyses of all the data we have in the run-up to the Brexit referendum, following exactly the same methodology as we did after the FBI notified Facebook of outside interference in the 2016 U.S. presidential election,” Clegg told BBC News on Monday. “We’ve shared all this information with the select committee and Westminster and elsewhere. We have found no evidence of a significant attempt by outside forces.”
Clegg also said the ongoing backlash against Silicon Valley also created “the risk that we throw the baby out with the bathwater and make it almost impossible for tech to innovate properly … Technology is not good or bad. Technology down the ages is used by good and bad people for good and bad ends.”
Carole Cadwalladr, an investigative journalist whose work is credited with exposing the Cambridge Analytica data scandal, dismissed Clegg’s statements and retweeted the statements of others who believe that Facebook did play a role in influencing the Brexit referendum.
“So Facebook spins propaganda. BBC platforms it. And LeaveEU amplifies it. A great morning’s work, all. Well done. I honestly don’t know where to start with this,” Cadwalladr, who has called for an independent Robert Mueller-style probe into Brexit and written extensively on this topic, wrote on Twitter.
A Channel 4 investigation in May found that millionnaire Arron Banks spent hundreds of thousands of dollars to fund the “lavish lifestyle” of Nigel Farage, a chief advocate of Brexit in the United Kingdom. Researchers and public figures have also said the Menlo Park, Calif., company hasn’t been forthcoming enough with its own data, so academics can determine whether Russia played a role in Brexit.
David Lammy, a British lawmaker with the Labour Party, also questioned Clegg’s comments.
“Horse manure,” Lammy wrote on Twitter. “What about the disinformation spread by Russian state media, RT and Sputnik, on Facebook?”
Collins chairs a U.K. parliamentary committee that has called for Facebook to be investigated by the country’s privacy and competition regulators.
Facebook had no further comment when contacted by Fox News on Monday.