Manipulation and social media

Cambridge Analytica, based in London, uses the personal information of Internet users to develop political strategies. (Henry Nicholls / Reuters)

The data stored in the user profiles serve to sell products and even influence in their vote

As we surf the internet, we leave a trace of information: when we like, when we read or share content, when we participate in a survey, watch a video or buy something.

Websites and social network platforms are programmed to collect users’ personal data: our name and age, our tastes and preferences, cultural interests, political ideas, economic situation…

This is information of great value for companies, because they can adapt their products and services according to buyers’ preferences and ensure higher sales and benefits.

But they are also very useful data for political parties: this way they can know what people want and influence their vote.

How does Cambridge Analytica work?

Today, Internet companies such as Facebook become very rich sources of information thanks to its millions of users. And selling its users’ personal data has become a big business.

In addition to using this information to make personalized advertising, user data also serves to make political propaganda and influence the people’s vote. But how can you convince someone to vote for something only through networks?

Cambridge Analytica, the company involved in the Facebook scandal, analyzed each user’s profile to find out what kind of messages were most effective, at what times he/she was most likely to see it, how many times the ad had to be displayed on his/her wall …

Cambridge Analytica used the personal and private data of millions of users on Facebook without their consent. (Daniel Leal-olivas / AFP)

Christopher Wylie, a data analyst who worked at Cambridge Analytica and has uncovered the case, explained how the company used data to manipulate people.

So that the manipulation were not so evident and that users would believe the messages, other false profiles were created, as well as invented websites, news and reports published in fictitious media to reinforce the message they wanted to transmit and make everything look real.

These strategies were also used in the US presidential election in 2016.

Donald Trump and his team hired Cambridge Analytica to know in which cities the voters were gullible and then elaborated defamatory campaigns against his opponent, Hillary Clinton, with false information.

Translated by Chaplin’s Languages | Find out more in Junior Report

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