It comes as no surprise the Trump campaign engaged in questionable activity during the 2016 presidential cycle.
As the nation awaits Special Council Robert Mueller’s report about possible Russian interference in the 2016 election, rumored to be publicized soon, more information unearths daily about how deep the Trump campaign’s efforts to subvert the American electorate extended.
One year ago, Christopher Wylie, a former employee of the now-defunct British-based data analytics company Cambridge Analytica, admitted the company colluded with two integral Trump campaign aides during the run up to Donald Trump’s candidacy.
This week--exactly one year later--the British High Court determined the bankrupt company tried to halt investigations looking into its illicit activity.
British political consultants working for the Trump campaign confessed to using clandestine organizations and super PACs to disseminate in the United States advertisements unable to be traced back to their sources.
Undercover reporters from Britain’s channel four, pretending to be potential clients, secretly recorded Cambridge Analytica CEO Alexander Nix admitting, “There’s no evidence, there’s no paper trail, there’s nothing.”
Nix stated his company used encrypted emails timed to self-destruct, boasting American politicians on congressional committees were not “smart enough” to discover his scheme. “They’re politicians, they’re not technical,” he claimed. “They don’t understand.”
“[We] ran all the digital campaign, the television campaign and our data informed all the strategy.”
On the American side, some of Cambridge Analytica’s most prominent board members and investors are none other than Republican mega-donor Rebekah Mercer, a wealthy Upper West-side Manhattan Republican who spent millions on Sen. Ted Cruz’s (R-Texas) failed presidential campaign; and former Trump chief strategist Steven Bannon, who served as Cambridge Analytica’s vice president..
Cambridge’s managing director, Mark Turnbull, told the undercover reporters Cambridge was behind a “Defeat Crooked Hillary” Facebook, internet, and television ad campaign, part of the Mercer-funded “Make America Number 1” Super PAC.
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As early as 2014, the data company floated the now-infamous Trump slogans “drain the swamp” and “build that wall,” as Christopher Wylie told CNN: “We were testing these narratives well before Trump even announced. We were finding there were pockets of Americans who this really appealed to. Steve Bannon knew that, because we were doing the research on it.”
Dr. Alex Tayler, Cambridge’s chief data scientist, was recorded explaining how campaigns could surreptitiously direct other organizations in spreading Cambridge’s message.
“Sometimes you can use proxy organisations who are already there,” he said. “You feed them. They are civil society organizations…Charities or activist groups, and we use them—feed them the material and they do the work. So this stuff infiltrates the online community and expands but with no branding—so it’s unattributable, untrackable.”
Minutes before channel four broadcast, Cambridge Analytica suspended Nix pending an investigation.
Over the weekend, channel four reported Cambridge Analytica misused data harvested from 50 million Facebook profiles in order to calibrate their message and target unsuspecting American voters.
“This data was used to create profiling algorithms that would allow us to explore mental vulnerabilities of people and then map out ways to inject information into different streams or channels of content online so that people started to see things that may or may not be true. This is a company that took fake news to the next level.”
Tracking Facebook users’ responses, Cambridge could advise campaign officials where Trump should eventually visit and the language that would resonate most with those regions’ voters.
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Last year, Facebook handed Congress 3,000 Russian-purchased ads through 470 phony pages and accounts that suggest African American rights groups, like Black Lives Matter, posed a political threat, in an effort to exploit racial divisions during the 2016 presidential campaign season.
A least $100,000 was spent for this purpose, a mere fraction of its political advertising during the 2016 campaign.
Christopher Wylie corroborated what the New York Times reported:
“[Cambridge Analytica] harvested private information from the Facebook profiles of more than 50 million users without their permission…making it one of the largest data leaks in the social network’s history.”