Shocking new information regarding the 2016 presidential elections was revealed by a whistleblower on Saturday, and may lead to even further investigations into how social media was used to affect the vote.
Cambridge Analytica, data firm that helped Trump during 2016 presidential race, has been accused of a massive data breach on Facebook. @profcarroll, who filed a claim against @CamAnalytica for collecting data on him, explains how he first suspected something was wrong. pic.twitter.com/nvPfHfNbi2
— CBS News (@CBSNews) March 17, 2018
Christopher Wylie was one of the original founders of Cambridge Analytic, a data firm that also introduced former pollster-turned-campaign manager-turned White House spokeswoman Kellyanne Conway and former Breitbart editor Steve Bannon to Trump’s campaign officials. Backed by other employees as well as documentation, Wylie has exposed Cambridge Analytica as having illegally stolen data from millions of Facebook accounts in order to influence the 2016 presidential elections.
‘The firm harvested private information from the Facebook profiles of more than 50 million users without their permission, according to former Cambridge employees, associates and documents, making it one of the largest data leaks in the social network’s history. The breach allowed the company to exploit the private social media activity of a huge swath of the American electorate, developing techniques that underpinned its work on President Trump’s campaign in 2016.’
In this piece, first published shortly after Donald Trump was elected president, writer McKenzie Funk challenged Facebook to do something about a firm that helped him win, Cambridge Analytica. Sixteen months later, Facebook has banned them. https://t.co/2oecalLUIR
— NYT Opinion (@nytopinion) March 17, 2018
The firm was backed by an investment of $15 million dollars from Trump supporter and Breitbart owner Robert Mercer, who was a crucial part of Trump’s election. Wylie explained the reasoning behind the alleged illegal activity.
‘They want to fight a culture war in America. Cambridge Analytica was supposed to be the arsenal of weapons to fight that culture war.’
Previous reporting by The Wall Street Journal exposed Cambridge Analytica for their contacts with Julian Assange, whose role in the 2016 elections cannot be understated. Assange used Wikileaks to reveal thousands of hacked emails from the DNC and Hillary Clinton’s campaign chairman, John Podesta, a move that irreparably damaged Trump’s political rival, Hillary Clinton.
‘The chief executive of a data-analytics firm that worked for President Donald Trump’s campaign reached out to WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange to offer help organizing the Hillary Clinton-related emails the website was releasing, according to a person familiar with the effort.’
Assange’s communications with longtime friend and informal campaign adviser, Roger Stone, were exposed by The Washington Post after Stone denied the communications to the House Intelligence Committee, saying that he only communicated with Wikileaks through an intermediary. Stone had said previously stated in interviews and at campaign events that he was in contact with Assange during the elections and suspiciously tweeted about Podesta’s upcoming “time in the barrel” several days prior to the emails’ release.
— Mother Jones (@MotherJones) March 16, 2018
It is unclear at this time whether or not Stone’s communications and prior knowledge of Wikileaks’ email hacking and dump were shared with then-candidate Donald Trump.
— Jeremy N. Majors (@jeremyww) March 17, 2018
Facebook has now suspended the firm from the social media platform. The New York Times reported a statement made by top executives at Facebook.
‘”This was a scam — and a fraud,” Paul Grewal, a vice president and deputy general counsel at the social network, said in a statement to The Times earlier on Friday. He added that the company was suspending Cambridge Analytica, Mr. Wylie and the researcher, Aleksandr Kogan, a Russian-American academic, from Facebook. “We will take whatever steps are required to see that the data in question is deleted once and for all — and take action against all offending parties,” Mr. Grewal said.’
Media professor David Carroll filed a lawsuit in the U.K. against the data firm and Facebook executives say they plan to do the same.
Featured image via Getty/Win McNamee