Because there’s no archive of ads that people had seen or what had been pushed into their news feeds. No trace of anything, gone completely dark.
And this referendum that will have this profound effect forever on Britain — it’s already had a profound effect: the Japanese car manufacturers that came to Wales and the north east to replace the mining jobs — they are already going because of Brexit.
And this entire referendum took place in darkness, because it took place on Facebook.
And what happens on Facebook stays on Facebook, because only you see your news feed, and then it vanishes, so it’s impossible to research anything. So we have no idea who saw what ads or what impact they had, or what data was used to target these people.
Or even who placed the ads, or how much money was spent, or even what nationality they were. But Facebook does.
Facebook has these answers, and it’s refused to give them to us. Our parliament has asked Mark Zuckerberg multiple times to come to Britain and to give us these answers. And every single time, he’s refused. And you have to wonder why.
Because what I and other journalists have uncovered is that multiple crimes took place during the referendum. And they took place on Facebook. It’s because in Britain, we limit the amount of money that you can spend in an election. And it’s because in the 19th century, people would walk around with literally wheelbarrows of cash and just buy voters.
So we passed these strict laws to stop that from happening. But those laws don’t work anymore. This referendum took place almost entirely online. And you can spend any amount of money on Facebook or on Google or on YouTube ads and nobody will know, because they’re black boxes. And this is what happened.
We’ve actually got no idea of the full extent of it. But we do know that in the last days before the Brexit vote, the official “Vote Leave” campaign laundered nearly three quarters of a million pounds through another campaign entity that our electoral commission has ruled was illegal, and it’s referred it to the police.
And with this illegal cash, “Vote Leave” unleashed a fire hose of disinformation. Ads like this.
[Turkey’s 76 million people joining the EU]
This is a lie, it’s a total lie. Turkey is not joining the European Union. There’s not even any discussions of it joining the European Union. And most of us, we never saw these ads, because we were not the target of them.
“Vote Leave” identified a tiny sliver of people who it identified as persuadable, and they saw them. And the only reason we are seeing these now is because parliament forced Facebook to hand them over.
And maybe you think, “Well, it was just a bit of overspending. It’s a few lies.”
But this was the biggest electoral fraud in Britain for 100 years. In a once-in-a-generation vote that hinged upon just one percent of the electorate. And it was just one of the crimes that took place in the referendum.
There was another group, which was headed by this man, Nigel Farage, the one to the right of Trump. And his group, “Leave.EU” — it also broke the law. It broke British electoral laws and British data laws, and it’s also being referred to the police.
And this man, Arron Banks, he funded this campaign. And in a completely separate case, he’s being referred to our National Crime Agency, our equivalent of the FBI, because our electoral commission has concluded they don’t know where his money came from. Or if it was even British.
And I’m not even going to go into the lies that Arron Banks has told about his covert relationship with the Russian government. Or the weird timing of Nigel Farage’s meetings with Julian Assange and with Trump’s buddy, Roger Stone, now indicted, immediately before two massive WikiLeaks dumps, both of which happened to benefit Donald Trump.
But I will tell you that Brexit and Trump were intimately entwined. This man told me that Brexit was the petri dish for Trump. And we know it’s the same people, the same companies, the same data, the same techniques, the same use of hate and fear. This is what they were posting on Facebook.
And I don’t even want to call this a lie, [Immigration without assimilation equals invasion] because it feels more like a hate crime to me.
I don’t have to tell you that hate and fear are being sown online all across the world. Not just in Britain and America, but in France and in Hungary and Brazil and Myanmar and New Zealand. And we know there is this dark undertow which is connecting us all globally.
And it is flowing via the technology platforms. But we only see a tiny amount of what’s going on on the surface. And I only found out anything about this dark underbelly because I started looking into Trump’s relationship to Farage, into a company called Cambridge Analytica.