Belfast Telegraph

DUP 'won't take lectures from republicans on social media'

By Michael Sheils McNamee

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

Yesterday 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, the DUP said it would "take no lectures from Sinn Fein about social media" - a reference to recent controversies surrounding the party.

During the Brexit campaign £32,750 was paid by the DUP to AggregateIQ, a Canada-based digital advertising firm. In 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 Cambridge Analytica or SCL".

Sunday's Observer carried a 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 yesterday, Newry and Armagh MLA Mr Murphy reiterated his call for further clarity from the DUP.

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

However, the DUP 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."

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