Data breach may connect to 2016 election

Randi Dofat

It has been revealed that the company Cambridge Analytica swayed voters into choosing Donald Trump for the 2016 elections by using Facebook and Mercer-allied conservative groups.

Cambridge Analytica is a British political consulting firm that collects data through the internet as a communication strategy for the electoral process, according to the the company’s website.

It has recently been exposed that Cambridge Analytica had stolen data from 50 million Facebook users. This data was collected by Aleksandr Kogan, a psychology professor at the University of Cambridge. This is the main reason Facebook had not reported such behavior as a “data breach,” according to Angela Chen and Alessandra Potenza, writers for “The Verge.”

Cambridge Analytica used this information to target ads based on users’ personalities, which were found by creating “psychographic” profiling tools. 

Psychographics is the study of personality, values, opinions, attitudes, interests, and lifestyles.

The firm freely exploited Facebook and in 2016, they were hired by the Trump campaign to be used to the now-sitting president’s advantage.

Because Cambridge had a reputation for being unethical because of its practices and the methods it used to get its data, it was first passed up, but the Trump campaign decided to hire the firm nonetheless.

However, the former Trump campaign has insisted that they had never relied on the Cambridge Analytica or the “psychographic method,” according to Sara Murray, Maeve Reston, Dana Bash and Evan Perez, writers for CNN.

Yet, during the 2016 elections, the Trump campaign paid Cambridge Analytica $6 million for its efforts.

Recently, British and American authorities have discussed whether the firm used the data inappropriately to try to impact the election, according to Jonathan Lemire, a writer for Associated Press.

Alexander Nix, the CEO of Cambridge Analytica, was secretly recorded proclaiming he had met with Trump several times. Their goal was to “defeat crooked Hillary” through their advertising campaign, according to Emma Graham-Harrison and Carole Cadwalladr, writers for The Guardian.

“We just put information into the bloodstream of the internet and then watch it grow, give it a little push every now and again over time to watch it take shape,” said Nix. “And so, this stuff infiltrates the online community, but with no branding, so it’s unattributable, untrackable.”