By BO Staff Writer
If you are reading this, you most likely have a Facebook profile or some other form of ‘digital footprint’. Also if you are interested in mainstream electoral politics, the documentary ‘The Great Hack’ is a must see. It gives insight into what Cambridge Analytica, and the S.C.L. group are; how data is stolen from Facebook users to manipulate them to vote for a preferred candidate or party; how the 2016 Presidential election was won by Donald Trump; and how the the outcome of the Brexit referendum was possibly manipulated. Moreover the theft of personal data undermines fundamental rights including electoral rights. It further offends against data as a human right; and a country’s right to sovereignty.
The main players in the documentary include: Professor David Carroll, who instituted Court action against Cambridge Analytica for the return of his data; Carole Cadwalladr, Guardian reporter; Paul Hilder, ‘a political technologist who also documented the fallout’; Brittany Kaiser, ‘a former Obama intern-turned-“posh conservative” who worked on Cambridge’s “Leave E.U.”’; Christopher Wylie, a data scientist and whistleblower; and Julian Wheatland, former COO/CFL of the SCLGroup/ Cambridge Analytica.
A data scientist, Christopher Wylie, who assisted with establishing Cambridge Analytica in 2013 was the whistleblower who testified against Cambridge Analytica. Wylie enlisted the help of Aleksandr Kogan to find a way to harvest data. Kogan in turn developed an APP that would collect data from millions of Facebook users via a ‘personality test’.
Accordingly to Wylie, if your Facebook friend used the said APP, all your data – including likes, status updates, and private messages – will also be taken by the APP without your consent. This is how the data was taken from Facebook users and then used to develop a psychological profile for each user and by extension the population of the United States (US).
Wylie testified further that Cambridge Analytica acquired Facebook data of 50 million Americans. It thus created an unprecedented digital platform (in terms of accuracy and influence) which was used by the 2016 Trump campaign. He said that Cambridge Analytica’s digital platform is dependent on data harvested from Facebook users. Wylie describes Cambridge Analytica as the “psychological warfare mindfuck tool” of Steve Benon.
Cambridge Analytica said it has 5000 data points on each American Facebook user and it can use this to predict the personality of every adult Facebook user in America. To this end Alexander Nix of Cambridge Analytica said:
“It’s personality that drives behavior, and behavior obviously influences how you vote,”
Brittany Kaiser, also a whistleblower was a key insider in CA. She gave evidence regarding what transpired. She said that the Personality Test APP did not target each voter in America equally. She explained further:
“The bulk of our resources went into targeting those whose minds we thought we could change. We called them the ‘persuadables’”
She stressed that more focus was put on people in swing states than anywhere else which consequently impacted positively on the overall outcome. To this end the CA creative team:
– developed ‘personalised content’ to trigger the targeted individuals
– bombarded the targeted individuals via websites, blogs, videos, articles, advertisements and every other platform imaginable – until these individuals viewed the world the way CA wanted them to see it; and until they voted for Donald Trump.
The imagery used to persuade the relevant individuals constituted (in the main) anti Hillary Clinton propaganda and threats of terrorism. In this way ‘targeted messaging’ actually changed the behaviour of voters.
The world is controlled digitally by manipulating voters without them being aware of what is happening.
Wylie called Cambridge Analytica a “full service propaganda machine”, and a weapon to reshape society; and the “psychological warfare mindfuck tool” of Steve Benon
Who is Steve Bannon
Steve Bannon’s biographical details include:
i. Former executive at Breitbart News Network;
ii. Senior Advisor to President Donald Trump; and
iii. Main architect and Strategist of Donald Trump’s 2016 Presidential Campaign
Bannon succeeded Andrew Breitbart, the founder of Breitbart News Network, when he died in 2012. In 2016, Bannon said to a journalist from Mother Jones: “We’re the platform for the alt-right.”
The Alternative Right embraces a white supremacist ideological approach and consists of disappointed Republicans and other white nationalists whose leaders were voted into office on the coattails of President Trump.
Bannon made it possible for the Trump administration via Breitbart News Network (Breitbart) to bring white supremacist views into the mainstream media and cultural sphere. He has basically set himself up as the main custodian for the alt right. Under his leadership, Breitbart has been thrust as the primary source of dissemination of white supremacist views. He promoted a negative narrative about ‘illegal’ immigration, and Shariah Law.
His main policy concern was China’s accelerated growth into prominence in the world and the fear of it overtaking the USA in 25 or 30 years. It was imperative therefore for the United States to win the economic war with China.
He resigned from Breitbart and was appointed chief executive officer of the Trump presidential election campaign shortly before the 2016 election. Although he left his job at Breitbart he is still alleged to have used its platform to incite, organize and mobilize the extreme-right constituency to vote for Trump. In August 2017 he returned to Breitbart and served as the news network’s executive chairman until January 2018.
Relationship between S.C.L. and Cambridge Analytica
The Strategic Communications Laboratories (S.C.L.) Group, is the parent company of Cambridge Analytica. Both possess enormous capacity and power to steer election results to a desired outcome.
S.C.L. and Cambridge Analytica have further been connected to the two core Leave campaigns conducted during Britain’s E.U. 2016 referendum. The S.C.L. however, which had boasted about its digital expertise, has denied any such connection, despite evidence to the contrary.
In 2013, Breitbart News editor, Steve Bannon, introduced Nix and Wylie to the founder of Renaissance Technologies, Robert Mercer who in turn invested five million dollars in Cambridge Analytica which is a S.C.L. venture. This entailed the task of Cambridge Analytica influencing the upcoming congressional elections.
The Times and the Observer reported that in 2014 Cambridge Analytica obtained the relevant Facebook data from Aleksandr Kogan, a researcher from Cambridge University. As pointed out above this was confirmed by Wylie. This meant that S.C.L. /Cambridge Analytica now had sufficient data to prove what Wylie and Nix had been claiming. In 2015, Ted Cruz’s campaign hired Cambridge Analytica.
To comply with U.S. electoral legislation Cambridge Analytica was incorporated in Delaware. However within S.C.L. itself there was no material distinction.
It turns out that most of the funding for the Brexit campaign was allocated to a Canadian company, Aggregate I.Q, which reportedly also “worked on an S.C.L. project to help elect the mayor of Buenos Aires, Horacio Rodríguez Larreta, in 2015”. Moreover, it is also reported that there is “agreement between Aggregate I.Q. and Cambridge Analytica, from September, 2014, which assigns Aggregate I.Q.’s intellectual property to Cambridge Analytica.”.
And what of Mark Zuckerberg’s criminal and civil liability?
According to footage used in The Great Hack, Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg:
i. indicated that his foremost priority has been his ‘social mission’. He admitted that not enough was done to prevent tools like Facebook from being used to cause harm.
ii. stated that he was under the impression that Cambridge Analytica had deleted the data. He also claims that he had no knowledge whether Facebook employees were involved in the scheme.
Julian Wheatland , the former COO/CFL of the SCLGroup/ Cambridge Analytica, was interviewed in the documentary. He said that Cambridge Analytica’s CEO Alexander Nix was “very focused on building a strong elections business”. He referenced the Obama election campaign of 2008 as authority and pointed out that it had great success in using data and digital campaigns, and creating a market to serve Republican politics in America. According to him Cambridge Analytica was an “environment of great innovation”.
Alexander Nix initially denied any wrongdoing. He later stated that “he had legally licensed the Facebook data they used, and that Cambridge Analytica had only delivered “a proposal for work” to Leave.EU.”
Cambridge Analytica has gone into liquidation. Nix has denied that by doing so, Cambridge Analytica was evading any legal liability.
College Professor, David Carroll, instituted Court action against Cambridge Analytica to reclaim his data. Although Cambridge Analytica ultimately pleaded guilty, they had not returned his data. He is taking the matter further in terms of legal processes and recourses.
It seems that the perpetrators, including Facebook and Cambridge Analytica, have already escaped all liability for their wrongful actions – both criminal and civil!
1. ‘The Great Hack’ Review: From Data-Rights Fights to Democracy R.I.P. by David Fear, see link, https://www.rollingstone.com/movies/movie-reviews/the-great-hack-movie-review-netflix-861785/
2. ‘Netflix’s The Great Hack will make you question everything you EVER see online’, see link,
3. ‘Biography of Steve Bannon: A Masterful Political Strategist and Powerful Media Exec’ by Tom Murse. See link, https://www.thoughtco.com/steve-bannon-bio-4149433
4. Life Inside S.C.L., Cambridge Analytica’s Parent Company’, see link, https://www.newyorker.com/news/letter-from-the-uk/life-inside-scl-cambridge-analyticas-parent-company