- A second former employee of Cambridge Analytica has come forward to describe the data firm’s inner workings – in particular how it operated while working for Donald Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign.
- The former employee, Brittany Kaiser, explained to The Guardian how a 27-page internal presentation outlined the methods the Trump campaign used to target voters on social media.
- Cambridge Analytica is embroiled in an international controversy over its harvesting of the data of millions of Facebook users.
A former employee of Cambridge Analytica has come forward to describe the techniques the controversial data firm used to target US voters ahead of the 2016 presidential election.
A 27-page internal presentation obtained by The Guardian is said to show how Cambridge Analytica used Facebook, Twitter, Google, YouTube, and Snapchat to push ads in favour of Donald Trump during the campaign.
The Guardian says that while the advertising techniques described in the internal presentation are legal, they provide further insight into the extent to which Cambridge Analytica tried to influence people’s perceptions of political candidates on the internet in the run-up to the 2016 election.
The Trump campaign hired the firm in June 2016 to lead its digital advertising efforts. Cambridge Analytica’s staff then discovered the team had virtually no centralised digital marketing team, said Brittany Kaiser, who left her job as a business-development director at Cambridge two weeks ago over a contract dispute.
“There was no database of record; there were many disparate data sources that were not connected, matched or hygiened,” Kaiser told The Guardian. “There was no data science program, so they weren’t undertaking any modelling.”
But Cambridge Analytica sought to help the Trump campaign turn things around with in-depth survey-research, data modelling, and targeted algorithms on social media.
The Guardian published six slides it said were included in the presentation. One with the heading “Persuasion Search Advertising” details how Cambridge Analytica bought ad space on Google so that when people searched for “Trump Iraq War,” results would show messages favourable to Trump and seeking to disparage Hillary Clinton, the 2016 Democratic presidential nominee.
“Hillary Voted for the Iraq War – Donald Trump opposed it,” one of the ads said.
Another said: “Hillary Clinton supports NAFTA – she will ship jobs overseas.”
Kaiser is the second former employee of the company to speak to the media recently about how the firm operated; the first was Christopher Wylie.
Cambridge Analytica has been under intense scrutiny since reports over the weekend disclosed how the firm harvested the information of 50 million Facebook users without permission and used that data to target them with personalised political ads.
Facebook has since suspended the firm from buying ads or managing pages on its platform. Cambridge Analytica’s CEO, Alexander Nix, has also been suspended amid an investigation by British lawmakers into the company’s practices and Nix’s contradictory statements regarding its use of Facebook data.