Secret effort allegedly focused on 16 swing states, several narrowly won by Trump after the black Democrat vote collapsed
Donald Trump’s 2016 US presidential election campaign has been accused of actively seeking to deter 3.5 million black Americans in battleground states from voting by deliberately targeting them with negative Hillary Clinton ads on Facebook.
The secret effort concentrated on 16 swing states, several narrowly won by Trump after the black Democrat vote collapsed.
The claims have come from an investigation by Channel 4 News, which was leaked a copy of a vast election database it says was used by the Trump campaign in 2016.
— Credits & Context
Cambridge Analytica Ltd (CA) was a British political consulting firm that combined misappropriation of digital assets, data mining, data brokerage, and data analysis with strategic communication during electoral processes. It was started in 2013 as an offshoot of the private intelligence company and self-described “global election management agency” SCL Group, and was led by Alexander Nix. After closing operations with legal proceedings including bankruptcy, members of the SCL Group have been continuing operations under the legal entity Emerdata Limited. The company closed operations in 2018 in the course of the Facebook–Cambridge Analytica data scandal, although related firms still exist. The company had close ties to the Conservative Party (UK), the British royal family and the British military.
Principally founded by Nigel Oakes, the company’s owners included the family of American hedge fund manager Robert Mercer, former British Conservative minister Jonathan Marland, Baron Marland and several of the Conservative Party’s largest donors such as billionaire Vincent Tchenguiz. The firm maintained offices in London, New York City, and Washington, DC. CEO Alexander Nix has said CA was involved in 44 US political races in 2014. 2015, CA performed data analysis services for Ted Cruz’s presidential campaign. In 2016, CA worked for Donald Trump’s presidential campaign as well as for Leave.EU (one of the organisations campaigning in the United Kingdom’s referendum on European Union membership). CA’s role in those campaigns has been controversial and is the subject of ongoing criminal investigations in both countries. Political scientists question CA’s claims about the effectiveness of its methods of targeting voters.
In March 2018, multiple media outlets broke news of Cambridge Analytica’s business practices. The New York Times and The Observer reported that the company had acquired and used personal data about Facebook users from an external researcher who had told Facebook he was collecting it for academic purposes. Shortly afterwards, Channel 4 News aired undercover investigative videos showing Nix boasting about using prostitutes, bribery sting operations, and honey traps to discredit politicians on whom it conducted opposition research, and saying that the company “ran all of (Donald Trump’s) digital campaign”. In response to the media reports, the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) of the UK pursued a warrant to search the company’s servers. Facebook banned Cambridge Analytica from advertising on its platform, saying that it had been deceived. On 23 March 2018, the British High Court granted the ICO a warrant to search Cambridge Analytica’s London offices.
Source – Cambridge Analytica (Updated: 27 September 2020) Wikipedia. Available at https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cambridge_Analytica (Accessed: 29 September 2020)