Cambridge Analytica, the London-based data consultancy firm in the midst of a global row, has allegedly been using Facebook users’ data to unfairly influence election results by psychological manipulation, entrapment techniques and fake news campaigns.
But Britain’s Channel 4 News on Monday exposed how senior executives at Cambridge Analytica were caught on camera suggesting that the firm could use sex workers, bribes and misinformation in order to try and help political candidates win votes around the world.
The Channel 4 News investigation followed articles published by The New York Times and The Observer that outlined how the data of millions of Facebook profiles ended up being given to Cambridge Analytica. The companies have denied any wrongdoing.
According to reports, Cambridge University researcher Aleksandr Kogan and his company Global Science Research created an app called “thisisyourdigitallife” in 2014.
The users were paid to take a psychological test and the app collected the data. It also gathered data on a person’s Facebook friends.
Kogan has admitted harvesting the personal details of 30 million Facebook users via the app. He was quoted by the Guardian as saying that he passed the data to Cambridge Analytica who assured him this was legal.
In this way, millions of Facebook profiles were mined for data.
Whistleblower Christopher Wylie told The New York Times and The Observer that Kogan along with Cambridge Analytica then created a software solution to help influence choices in elections.
He claimed that the Facebook data was used to develop “psychographic” profiles of people and deliver pro-Trump material to them online during the 2016 US elections.