Cambridge Analytica – Trumps secret to winning the presidency

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Before the 9th of November, there were rumours circulating that America would have their first ever female president. All the statistics were in favour of Hillary Clinton, as were most of the supporters on social media. So, what happened?

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Election charts via Real clear politics

Cambridge Analytica, based in the UK, are a company who specialise in analysing data. The company is backed by Robert Mercer, whose daughter was part of the Trump transition team. Donald Trumps win was one of the biggest advertisements for companies in digital advertising. Companies like Cambridge Analytica, use ‘psychographs’ to understand big data and the uses of it through social media.

In simpler terms, it made undecided voters steer towards the candidates they want them too. President Donald Trump hired the company at the middle of his term as president as they used big data to understand their audiences, and used that to focus on areas that show little to no interest in the elections.

To understand how they used psychographics, we must first understand what they do. Psychographics, or also known as Psychometrics, is a tool used to understand skills, achievements, abilities, activities, personality traits and educational achievement.

Cambridge Analytica, divided the US population into 32 personality types, and focused on just 17 states. It was established that men who like MAC cosmetics are slightly more likely to be gay, the company discovered that a preference for cars made in the US was a great indication of a potential Trump voter. Among other things, these findings now showed Trump which messages worked best and where.

Although people on social media hate Donald Trump, they love him simultaneously. Every time there is a mention of Trump, ratings go up, more people tune in and thus more ads are sold.

CEO of the company, Alexander Nix took Facebook analysing to a new level when the presidential debates were taking place:

“On the day of the third presidential debate between Trump and Clinton, Trump’s team tested 175,000 different ad variations for his arguments, in order to find the right versions above all via Facebook. The messages differed for the most part only in microscopic details, in order to target the recipients in the optimal psychological way: different headings, colors, captions, with a photo or video.”

The decision to focus on Michigan and Wisconsin in the final weeks of the campaign was made on the basis of data analysis, Nix says to reporters. This may have been one of the main factors of how President Trump took the lead. screen-shot-2017-02-24-at-3-18-15-pm

Infographic: Tooba Haq

With this information, It is easy to see how Facebook can interpret information to make it centered to speicific audiences. It is now getting simpler to use information we give Facebook for ‘free’. The information has a massive impact on things we don’t even realise.

During the controversy, Andy Stone, a Facebook spokesperson said, “Misleading people or misusing their information is a direct violation of our policies and we will take swift action against companies that do, including banning those companies from Facebook and requiring them to destroy all improperly collected data.”

 

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