Cambridge Analytica Whistleblower: How We Influenced U.S. Voters (Video)

Eric Ortiz
Eric Ortiz is a journalist and innovator with two decades in digital media, Ortiz founded the mobile app startup Evrybit, a live storytelling and reporting tool, as a 2014 John S. Knight Journalism Fellow at…
Eric Ortiz

Did data analytics firm Cambridge Analytica win the presidency for Donald Trump?

"I think it probably played a part," said Christopher Wylie, the data scientist who worked for the company and built the software program---using data collected from Facebook---that targeted 50 million unsuspecting Americans during the 2016 presidential race.

At the time, billionaire Robert Mercer owned Cambridge Analytica, and Steve Bannon, Trump's key adviser, was sold on using the system as a psychological warfare tool.

In an interview with The Guardian, Wylie explained how Cambridge Analytica influenced voters in the United States by creating personalized political advertisements.

"Instead of standing in the public square and saying what you think and then letting people come and listen to you and have that shared experience as to what your narrative is, you are whispering into the ear of each and every voter, and you may be whispering one thing to this voter and another thing to another voter," Wylie said.

The 28-year-old data war whistleblower decided to come clean about Cambridge Analytica because he regrets his role in what he called a "grossly unethical experiment" to sway public opinion.

"I can't say for sure what was the defining factor in getting Trump elected or growing the alt-right," Wylie said. "[But] if you want to fundamentally change society, you first have to break it. It's only when you break it is when you can remold the pieces into your vision of a new society. This was the weapon that Steve Bannon wanted to build to fight his culture war."

Watch Wylie's full interview in the video above.

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