A few days ago, Swiss “Das Magazin” published an investigation about how the technology of personalized advertising on Facebook influenced the United States presidential election. Many journalists from all over the world have already called this investigation “the text of the year.” You can find everything there: universal weapon, the latest technology, and daily spying on each of us.
What is Big Data?
The term “Big Data” means that all actions we perform on either the Web or offline leave a digital trail. Purchasing by credit card, Google search results, going to work with a smartphone, “like” on the social network – all this information is saved and stored carefully. For a long time, no one could understand why this data should be collected. Who will need it? How to use it in the future? It was not clear either, what Big Data for Humanity means: a great danger or a great achievement. From November 9, 2016, when Americans gave their votes for Donald Trump, we know the answer to this question. Because Trump election campaign on the Web and the campaign in Brexit support were made by a single company, which deals with Big Data. It is called Cambridge Analytica, whose director is Alexander Nix.
The father of the system, which deals with data processing, is the Deputy Director of the University of Cambridge Psychometrics Centre, Michal Kosinski. Alexander Nix simply used his achievements to help Donald Trump becoming the 45th President of the USA.
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According to German journalists, Cambridge Analytica organized numerous Internet campaigns in both Brexit and Trump support. For example, studies of Cambridge Analytica showed that the analysis of just 69 “likes” on Facebook is enough to determine the user`s race (96% probability), homosexuality (89%), and the commitment to either Democratic or Republican Party.
Big Data, Cambridge Analytica, and Trump
Donald Trump has always seemed to be a simpleton, who has lagged behind digital technology long ago. There is not even a computer on his desk. By contrast, Hillary Clinton relied on Barack Obama legacy as the first “president of social networks.” She had address lists of the Democratic Party, millions of subscribers, and Google and DreamWorks support. However, nothing helped her.
Moreover, when, in June 2016, Trump hired Cambridge Analytica specialists, many people in Washington just laughed. They were sure that Trump would never be able to cooperate with his foreign consultants effectively. Nevertheless, they all were wrong.
The director of Cambridge Analytica and his company have developed a particular model allowing a person to know the personality of each adult US citizen who is entitled to vote. Such a great marketing triumph of Cambridge Analytica is based on three key tactics:
- Behavioral analysis (“ocean model”)
- Careful Big Data study
- Targeted advertising.
Cambridge Analytica immediately started to buy personal data of the US citizens from all possible sources: club cards, bonus programs, inventory lists, newspaper subscriptions, telephone directories, medical data, etc. Everyone can buy almost any personal information in the United States. If you want to know, for example, where women-Jewess live, you can easily purchase such a database. As a result, Cambridge Analytica crossed all the received information with lists of the Republican Party registered supporters and the data of users` “likes” and reposts on Facebook. As a result, they got a personal profile on the “ocean model” with people`s fears, relatives, interests, aspirations, and, most importantly, with the addresses of residence.
To get meaningful “likes” from Facebook users, Cambridge Analytica also used numerous IQ-tests and other small applications.
How to keep Clinton's electorate from voting?
The contradictory Trump`s nature and his unscrupulousness were his key advantages. Due to the latest technologies, the future president sent different messages for each voter. Therefore, for example, on the third day of debates between Trump and Clinton, his team sent more than 180 thousand different messages to Facebook. They differed just in the smallest details to adjust psychologically to the particular recipients of information. These are various titles and subtitles, use photo or video in the post, and background color.
Such a filigree performance allowed those messages resonate with the smallest social groups. Alexander Nix commented this on like the following: “In this way, we can reach the applicable neighborhoods, villages, and even specific people.” Thus, in Little Haiti quarter in Miami, Trump employees spread the accurate information on Clinton Foundation refusal to help Haiti to overcome aftermaths of the earthquake. It was done deliberately to dissuade Little Haiti residents to give their votes for Clinton.
Trump's team also actively used the so-called “dark posts” on Facebook. These are paid advertisements in the midst of news feeds that only certain groups of persons could see. For example, particular posts with video of Clinton compared the black men with predators were shown only to African Americans. Consequently, Hillary Clinton was one of the victims of anti-advertisement performed by Cambridge Analytica.
The latest technologies at the service of volunteers
Starting from July 2016, Trump campaign volunteers got a unique application that prompted political preferences and personality types of the inhabitants of any house. Accordingly, based on these data, volunteers modified their conversations with various people. After the conversation was over, volunteers recorded the reverse reaction in the same app, and the data was sent directly to the main analytical center of Cambridge Analytica.
Owing to this data, Cambridge Analytica managed to allocate 32 psychological types of Americans, concentrating only on 17 states. In this way, for example, the specialists of the company proved that American automobile industry supporters are 100% potential Trump devotees. These discoveries also helped Donald Trump himself to see clearly what kind of messages to use in his speeches. Therefore, the important decision of Trump headquarters to dedicate last weeks to Michigan and Wisconsin was based only on data analysis. That is why Trump became the 45th US president. In particular, the result of Cambridge Analytica work let Donald Trump:
• Maximize the number of rural residents’ votes
• Minimize electoral activity of African Americans
• Significantly reduce the cost of the election campaign in the media, as three-quarters of all the advertising budget was sent to the digital sphere
• Get 80% of Facebook users votes.
Due to the fast development of the latest Internet technologies, our world has turned upside down: Brexit took place in the UK, and Donald Trump became the President of the most powerful country in the world. Having got to know how to manipulate Facebook users, the new president of the United States could convey his messages to each voter. Just remember that any of your everyday Facebook “likes” might help somebody become a president.