Belfast Telegraph

DUP will 'take no lectures' from Sinn Fein about social media

The DUP has hit back after calls from Sinn Fein for clarification on its links to AggregateIQ in the wake of a data leak scandal involving Cambridge Analytica and Facebook.

On Thursday, Sinn Fein MLA Conor Murphy called for greater clarity from the DUP on its spending on social media during the 2016 Brexit campaign.

In response, a DUP spokesperson said the party would "take no lectures from Sinn Fein about social media".

During the Brexit campaign £32,750 was paid by the DUP to AggregateIQ, a Canada-based digital advertising firm.

An investigation published in the Observer into the improper use of Facebook users' data by Cambridge Analytica, AggregateIQ was alleged to be linked to Cambridge Analytica.

A statement on AggregateIQ's website says it "is and has always been 100% Canadian owned and operated" and it has "never been and is not a part of Cabridge Analytica or SCL".

Sunday's Observer carried clarification that it did "not intend to suggest that AggregateIQ is a direct part and/or the Canadian branch of Cambridge Analytica, or that it has been involved in the exploitation of Facebook data".

SCL is Cambridge Analytica's parent company.

Last month Sinn Fein wrote to the Information Commissioner's Office about the DUP's spending on social media during the Brexit campaign.

In a statement on Thursday, Mr Murphy reiterated his call for further clarity from the DUP.

"Yet again the DUP have questions to answer," he said.

"Did they come into contact with AggregateIQ through their links with the far-right Leave and Donald Trump campaigns? How many voters’ details were used without their knowledge for the DUP’s Brexit campaign?

“I am calling on Arlene Foster and the DUP to come clean about the nature of the services purchased from AggregateIQ, and the full details of their financial relationship with the dark money of the Leave campaign."

In response, a DUP spokesperson said: "Encouraging people to come out and vote for your party is what election campaigns exist to achieve. We want to communicate our message as widely as possible, and this includes the use of social media. We will take no lectures from Sinn Fein about social media.

"There are twenty-six million reasons why it is utter hypocrisy for Sinn Fein to criticise anyone on grounds of financial transparency. They have raised millions of dark money in foreign donations.  Indeed, one third of all money spent by Sinn Fein in the recent Assembly election was foreign.

"Our campaigns meet all legal and regulatory conditions."

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