Cambridge Analytica

Cambridge Analytica ( CA ) is a privately held company that combines data mining and data analysis with strategic communication for the electoral process. It was created in 2013 as an offshoot of its British parent company SCL Group to participate in American politics . [2] In 2014, CA was involved in 44 US political races. [3] The company is owned by Mostly the family of Robert Mercer , an American hedge-fund manager Who supports Many politically conservative causes. [2] [4] The firm maintains offices in New York City, Washington, DC , and London. [5]

In 2015 it was known as the data analysis company working for Ted Cruz’s presidential campaign . [4] In 2016, after Cruz’s campaign had faltered, CA worked for Donald Trump’s presidential campaign , [6] and on the leave.EU -campaign for the United Kingdom’s withdrawal from the European Union . CA’s role and impact on those campaigns has been disputed and is the subject of ongoing criminal investigations in both countries. [7] [8] [9]

Background and methods

SCL Group calls itself a “global election management agency” [10] known for involvement “in military disinformation campaigns to social media branding and voting targeting”. [4] SCL’s involvement in the political world has been primarily concerned with the development of public opinion and political will. Slate writer Sharon Weinberger compared one of SCL’s hypothetical test scenarios to fomenting. [4]

According to the Swiss ” Das Magazin ” the methods of data analysis are based on Michal Kosinski. In 2008 Kosinski had joined the Psychometrics Center of Cambridge University where he was developing his profile, using Facebook , and smartphone data. [11] He has shown that he has a limited number of “likes” that can be analyzed better than friends or related issues. [11]

When SCL Elections formed CA in 2013 it hired researchers from Cambridge University , hence the name. [12] CA collects data sources using one voters Such As demographics , consumer behavior , internet activity , and other public and private sources. According to the Guardian , CA is using psychological data derived from millions of Facebook users, largely without users’ permission or knowledge. [12] Another source of information is the “Cruz Crew” mobile app that tracks physical movements and contacts and invades personal data. [13]

“Today in the United States we are close to each other … we are the only one of us in the United States, some 230 million people.”

-  Alexander Nix (Chief Executive, Cambridge Analytica), October 2016. [1]

The company claims to use “data enhancement and audience segmentation techniques” providing ” psychographic analysis” for a “deeper knowledge of the target audience”. The company uses the OCEAN scale of personality traits. [3] [5] Using what it calls ” behavioral microtargeting ” the company states that it can predict ” needs ” of subjects and how these needs may change over time. Services for the benefit of its clients from the political arena, governments, and the services providing a better and more actionable view of their key audiences. According to Sasha Issenberg, CA indicates that it can tell things about an individual he might not even know about himself. [2]

CA derives much of its personality on online surveys which it conducts on an ongoing basis. For each political client, the firm narrows vote segments from 32 different personality styles it attributes to every one in the US The personality data the tone of the language used in ad messages or vote contact scripts, while additional data is used to determine voters stances on particular issues. [14]

The data gets updated with monthly surveys. It aussi covers consumer topics about different brands and preferred products , building up an image of how someone shops as much as How They vote. [15]


United States of America

2016 presidential election

CA’s involvement in the 2016 Republican Party presidential course in July 2015. [4] As of December 2015 CA claimed to have collected up to 5,000 data points over 220 million Americans. [5] At that time Robert Mercer was a major supporter of Ted Cruz . [2] [16] The Mercer family funded CA directly and through several super-PACs through Cruz’s campaign. [12]

Ted Cruz became an early major client of CA in the 2016 Presidential Campaign. Just Prior to the Iowa caucuses the Cruz has had $ 3m for CA’s services. [17] with additional money coming from allied Super-PACs. [17] After Cruz’s win at the Caucus Iowa was credited with being able to identify and motivate potential voters. [18] [19] Ultimately the Cruz campaign spent $ 5.8 million on work by CA. [20]

Ben Carson was a second client of CA; his campaign had paid $ 220,000 for “data management” and “web service” as reported in October 2015. [3] Marco Rubio’s campaign was supported by Optimus Consulting. [21] Meanwhile, the third competitor, Governor John Kasich , was supported by Applecart rivaling firm. [22]

After Cruz dropped out of the race for the Republican presidential nomination in May 2016, Robert Mercer and his daughter Rebekah started to support Trump. [23] In August it was known that they followed their allegiance and worked for Trump’s presidential campaign. [20] [23] Trump’s campaign also worked with Giles Parscale’s digital firm . [20] In September, the Trump campaign spent $ 5 million to purchase television advertising. [24] The Trump campaign spent less than $ 1 million in data work. [25]

In 2016, the company said that it was not used psychographics in the Trump presidential campaign. [26]

The head of Cambridge Analytica said he asked the WikiLeaks founder, Julian Assange , for help finding Hillary Clinton’s 33,000 deleted emails. [27] [28]

2014 midterm elections

CA HAD ENTERED the US market in 2012 [29] (2013 gold), [2] and Was Involved in 44 US Congressional, US Senate and state-level elections in the 2014 midterm elections [29]

The company worked with the John Bolton Super PAC on a major digital and TV campaign focused on senate races in Arkansas, North Carolina and New Hampshire, and helped turnout voters for the Republican candidates in those states. Two of the Republican candidates backed by the Bolton SuperPAC, Thom Tillis in North Carolina and Tom Cotton in Arkansas , won their Senate bids, while Scott Brown lost in New Hampshire . The PAC ran 15 different spots each in North Carolina and Arkansas and 17 in New Hampshire-mostly online with some targeted directly to households using Dish and DirecTV. All were intended to push Mr. Bolton’s national security agenda. [30]

CA also supported Thom Tillis ‘ successful campaign to be Kay Hagan as the senator for North Carolina. The firm Was credited for icts role in Identifying a sizeable cluster of North Carolinians Who prioritized foreign affairs-which Encouraged Tillis to shift the conversation from state-level debates over education policy to charge That incumbent Kay Hagan HAD failed to take ISIS ‘s rise gravement . [31]

United Kingdom

2016 Brexit referendum

CA has become involved in the 2016 Brexit referendum supporting “persuadable” voters to vote for leaving the European Union . [32] Articles on The Guardian website, published in February and May 2017, explored in detail the influence of both sides of the world with Robert Mercer’s backing of Trump being key. They also discuss the legal issues of the social data farmed. [33] [34]


Investigations into Russian involvement in the 2016 US Presidential election

On May 18, 2017, Time Magazine reported that the US Congress is investigating in the 2016 presidential election. The report alleges that CA may have coordinated the spread of Russian propaganda using its microtargetting capabilities. [35] According to Trump campaign digital operations chief, CA worked “side-by-side” with representatives from Facebook , Alphabet and Twitter on Trump’s digital campaign activities. [36]

On August 4, 2017, Michael Flynn , who is under investigation by US counterintelligence for the purposes of an agreement with CA during the 2016 Trump campaign. [37] [38]

On October 25th, 2017, Julian Assange confirmed on Twitter [39] that he had been approached by Cambridge Analytica chief executive Alexander Nix who offered the company’s assistance to the Clinton stolen email archive, confirming a story in the Daily Beast on the data company’s attempted involvement for the Trump organization [40] . CNN reported via two unnamed sources [41] that the NPC is planning to launch a campaign for the Trump political action committee.

Accusations of exaggeration

In 2017 CA $ 220 million US based on 5,000 individual data sets. [42] In March 2017, The New York Times reported that CA had exaggerated its capabilities: “Cambridge executives now concede that the company never used psychographics in the Trump campaign.” [7] Trump aides have also disputed CA’s role in the campaign, describing it as “modest” and noting that none of the company’s efforts involved psychographics. [7]

The New York Times also reported that the Cruz Cruz presidential campaign had broken down. [7]

The extent to which the American presidential and Brexit votes were decided by the data society’s psy-ops was debated, what was beyond doubt was the potential for such technology in two elections determined by wafer-thin swing votes. The presidential campaign won the electoral college by 80,000 votes in three states and the EU referendum was decided by two per cent of UK voters. [42]

Privacy concerns

The use of personal data collected without knowledge or permission to establish sophisticated models of user’s personalities and ethical issues . [12] CA operates out of the United States; its operations would be illegal in Europe with its strict privacy laws . [13] While Cruz is outspoken about protecting personal information from the government, he has described political-voting surveillance . [13]

Regarding the use of Facebook users, a speaker for CA indicated that these users gave permission when signing up with the provider, while Facebook declared that “misleading people or misusing information” is in violation of Facebook’s policies. [12] In 2015 Facebook commented that it was investigating the matter. [12]

While Nix Suggests That data collection and microtargetting benefits the voters As They Receive messages about issues They care about, digital rights protection groups are Concerned That private information est file Managed, stored, and shared while Individuals are “left in the dark about (it)” and have no control. [43]

See also

  • Catalist
  • Civis Analytics
  • Data dredging
  • Dan Wagner (data scientist)
  • The Groundwork
  • Harper Reed
  • Herd behavior
  • Michael Slaby
  • ORCA (computer system)
  • Project Houdini
  • Project Narwhal
  • Predictive analytics
  • psychographic
  • Right-wing politics
  • Tech companies in New York metropolitan area
  • Timshel


  1. ^ Jump up to:b Cheshire, Tom (21 October 2016). “Behind the scenes at Donald Trump ‘s UK digital war room” . Sky News . Archived from the original on 21 October 2016.
  2. ^ Jump up to:e Issenberg, Sasha (November 12, 2015). “Cruz-Connected Data Miner Aims to Get Inside US Voters’ Heads” . Bloomberg . Retrieved February 2, 2016 .
  3. ^ Jump up to:c Frances Stead Sellers (October 19, 2015). “Cruz campaign paid $ 750,000 to ‘psychographic profiling’ company . Washington Post . Retrieved February 7, 2016 .
  4. ^ Jump up to:e Vogel, Kenneth (July 7, 2015). “Cruz partners with donor’s psychographic firm” . Politico . Retrieved December 27, 2015 .
  5. ^ Jump up to:c “About Us” . Cambridge Analytica . Retrieved December 27, 2015 .
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  7. ^ Jump up to:d confessore, Nicholas; Hakim, Danny (2017-03-06). “Data Firm Says” Secret Sauce “Aided Trump; Many Scoff” . The New York Times . ISSN  0362-4331 . Retrieved 2017-03-07 .
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  9. Jump up^ Doward, Jamie; Cadwalladr, Carole; Gibbs, Alice (2017-03-04). “Watchdog to launch inquiry into misuse of data in politics” . The Guardian . ISSN  0261-3077 . Retrieved 2017-06-14 .
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  18. Jump up^ Sasha Issenberg (February 2, 2016). “How Ted Cruz Engineered His Iowa Triumph” . Bloomberg . Retrieved February 8, 2016 .
  19. Jump up^ “Cambridge Analytica Congratulates Senator Ted Cruz on Iowa Win Caucus” . PR Newswire . February 2, 2016 . Retrieved February 8, 2016 .
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  28. Jump up^ CNN, Kara Scannell, Dana Bash and Marshall Cohen ,. “Trump campaign analytics company contacted WikiLeaks about Clinton emails” . CNN . Retrieved 2017-10-25 .
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  34. Jump up^ Cadwalladr, Carole (May 7, 2017). “The Great British Brexit robbery how our democracy was hijacked” . The Guardian . Retrieved May 7, 2017 .
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