Who is Cambridge Analytica, what is the connection with influencing elections?
The British company, which worked on Donald Trump’s campaign, is accused of illegally collecting Facebook data ..
Cambridge Analytica. With his name coming out of a bad James Bond, this British company is at the heart of a controversy that makes Paris pitch on the stock market. Accused of having recovered the data of 50 million users of the network without their consent in 2014, the company, which has worked on the campaign Donald Trump, suspended his boss, Alexander Nix, Tuesday, while investigations have opened in the United Kingdom and the United States.
Who is Cambridge Analytica?
Founded in 2013, this private Anglo-American data analysis and strategic communications company, a subsidiary of the British group SLC Group, has no connection with the University of Cambridge.
It boasts of being able to “influence voters” around the world through a “secret sauce” that mixes big data, psychological profiling, and microtargeting. United Kingdom, Kenya, Italy, South Africa, Colombia, Indonesia…
She reportedly worked on more than 100 elections around the world. His biggest blow: the election of Donald Trump in the United States.
The key men
In the current saga, there are five key players:
- Alexander Nix, the leader. This Brit has just been suspended by the Board of Directors during the investigation.
- Steve Bannon, the political godfather. The eminence grise of Donald Trump was vice president of Cambridge Analytica at its beginnings.
- Robert Mercer, the billionaire. This Republican Party contributor and Donald Trump’s support has injected $ 15 million into the business, at the request of Steve Bannon.
- Aleksandr Kogan, the psychologist. This researcher relied on the work of several of his colleagues in Cambridge to collect Facebook data from 50 million people via a personality test and then sold them to Cambridge Analytica.
- Christopher Wylie, the whistleblower. : This former employee, a 28-year-old Canadian, launched the alert. In an interview with the Guardian, he says he regrets having “designed Steve Bannon’s psychological war weapon”.
What is the link to Facebook?
According to a New York Times and Guardian investigation, Cambridge Analytica is accused of recovering data from 50 million Facebook users without their consent in 2014.
The social network accuses Aleksandr Kogan of violating his charter by collecting data under the pretext of university research before selling them to the British company.
Facebook is a victim but a former leader says that the company was voluntarily closing the eyes on the abuse and allowed a black market to develop personal data. “There was no control, once the data left the Facebook servers, no one knew where they were going,”
Investigations were opened in the United Kingdom and the United States, and Facebook commissioned an audit from an external provider. Mark Zuckerberg has so far made no comment, while the stock has lost nearly 10% between Friday and Monday.
The explosive investigation into the hidden camera
The British channel Channel 4 investigated in a hidden camera posing as a potential client for an election in Sri Lanka.
If in public, the leaders put forward their scientific expertise, in private, the pitch is very different. Alexander Nix claims to have links to former spies and suggests trapping a political opponent with a bribe or prostitutes and then posting the video on the Internet.
According to him, Cambridge Analytica operates “in the shadows” via front companies and subcontractors, pretending to be “for a tourist, a researcher or a student” and using false identities if necessary. “We arrive and leave without leaving a trace, like a ghost,” he boasts.
CAMBRIDGE ANALYTICA & ALEXANDER NIX are facing the same problem as ROGER STONE: You keep exaggerating your deeds & capabilities, & eventually people are going to start taking you seriously. pic.twitter.com/vxPJJbtk1r
— Kenneth P. Vogel (@kenvogel) March 20, 2018
And it works?
This is the big debate. Before supporting Donald Trump, the company was consulting for the loser Ted Cruz. And according to sources, his data left something to be desired, so much so that the candidate stopped the fees after the fourth primary poll.
Cambridge Analytica then swears to have driven Donald Trump’s digital campaign and done “all the research, data collection, analysis, targeting”.
But campaign digital director Brad Parscale swore recently that he had not used any Cambridge Analytica data, preferring the targeted advertising tools provided directly by Facebook. Anyway, the prosecutor Robert Mueller has, required all emails and corporate documents related to Donald Trump’s campaign.