Alexander Nix, the boss of the company Cambridge Analytica, at a hearing before the british parliament on 27 February 2018 (see Photo HO. PRU)
At the heart of a scandal over the use of personal data collected on Facebook (NASDAQ:FB), Cambridge Analytica (CA) is a privately owned strategic communication and analysis of data related to the republican Party of the us.
A subsidiary of the british company of marketing, Strategic Communication Laboratories (SCL), Cambridge Analytica (CA) has offices in New York, Washington and London. It is directed by Alexander Nix, a quadra past by the prestigious school of Eton, the manufactures of the elites in the United Kingdom, and the university of Manchester.
Data is the heart of business
“CA” is providing business and political movements, strategies and tools of communication turnkey based on the analysis of large-scale data (“big data”), and new technologies.
“We find your voters and make them take action,” says the company, explaining to count among its staff of researchers specializing in data analysis, but also political experts.
In the United States, Cambridge Analytica claims to have information “on more than 230 million american voters”.
The data constituting the essence of its activity, the company “continues to acquire more and more”, indicated in 2017 Alexander Nix in an interview with the website TechCrunch. “Every day, we have teams in search of new groups of data”.
Clients: Trump and the rest of the world
The company has worked on several political campaigns around the world, starting with the american billionaire Donald Trump in the race for the White House in 2016.
“We have designed an algorithm which has shown large cities, where there was the greatest concentration of voters to convince them”, explained Matt Oczkowski, head of Cambridge Analytica.
The review of data has allowed us to generate thousands of different messages, targeting voters based on their profiles on social networks such as Facebook, Snapchat or even the Pandora radio.
In the United Kingdom, the british press questioned the role played by the company during the campaign for the referendum on leaving the EU in 2016, due in particular to contacts with the movement pro-Brexit Leave.HAD. But according to Alexander Nix, “CA” has “not worked on the Brexit”.
The company further reports having worked in Kenya, Italy, South Africa, Colombia or Indonesia.
According to a survey conducted by the New York Times and The observer, publishing Sunday in the british daily The Guardian, Cambridge Analytica would have recovered without their consent, the data of 50 million users of Facebook and would have been used to develop a software to predict and influence the vote of the electorate.
The men the keys to the case
– Robert Mercer: this american businessman has made a fortune in the investment fund, and is one of the major donors to the republican Party. It has funded Cambridge Analytica to the tune of $ 15 million.
– Steve Bannon: a close advisor to Donald Trump before being ousted from the white House during the summer of 2017. According to The observer, he has been at the helm of “CA”.
– Aleksandr Kogan: a psychologist at the university of Cambridge. Developer, through the company Global Science Research (GSR), “thisisyourdigitallife”, an application collecting personal data on Facebook, which were then transmitted to “CA” and SCL, according to Facebook.
– Christopher Wylie: former employee of “CA” and whistleblower. This Canadian 28-year-old has claimed that the methods of Cambridge Analytica were “problematic” because-based “private data acquired without consent”, on canadian television (CBC).
The case is embarrassing for the american giant of the social networks whose servers host the data of more than 2 billion accounts.
Following the revelations, Facebook has suspended access to its services of CA, its parent SCL, as well as those of Aleksandr Kogan and Christopher Wylie.
CA says his side have complied with the rules of Facebook, and not hold or use personal data.