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Cambridge Analytica and Kenya elections

Tuesday March 20 2018

Cambridge Analytica

Facebook claims that Cambridge Analytica had in 2015 obtained Facebook user information without approval from the social media giant through the work the company did with a University of Cambridge psychology professor named Dr Aleksandr Kogan. PHOTO | AFP 

PATRICK LANG'AT
By PATRICK LANG'AT
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Two weeks after the Supreme Court annulled the August 8 election citing illegalities and irregularities, 2016 US presidential candidate Hillary Clinton suggested that the superpower should also offer an avenue to quash their own election in such a manner.

Mrs Clinton said that the annulled Kenyan poll and the US one had one thing in common: data company Cambridge Analytica owned by the Mercer family.

FACEBOOK

The former Secretary of State who had served as a senator, and who beat President Donald Trump in the popular vote but lost the electoral college, and eventually the elections, said the Kenyan elections bore the footprint of the UK-based data company that was last week suspended by Facebook.

Facebook claims that Cambridge Analytica had in 2015 obtained Facebook user information without approval from the social media giant through the work the company did with a University of Cambridge psychology professor named Dr Aleksandr Kogan.

Christopher Wylie, 28-year-old, in an interview with the Guardian blew the lid off the company he once worked for, following revelations how the company mined 50 million Facebook profiles by late 2015 on an unprecedented scale, described how he developed an app to exploit the information and detail target information to sway them politically.

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“We exploited Facebook to harvest millions of people’s profiles. And built models to exploit what we knew about them and target their inner demons. That was the basis the entire company was built on,” Wylie told the Observer.

KENYATTA

Mrs Clinton, in the interview with National Public Radio’s Terry Gross in September 2017, said Cambridge Analytica was involved in the Trump campaign where it promised to help him and in turn, he would pick Kellyanne Conway and former campaign chief Steve Bannon who has since resigned from their White House jobs.

“You know, the Kenya election was just overturned and really what's interesting about that — and I hope somebody writes about it Terry — the Kenyan election was also a project of Cambridge Analytica, the data company owned by the Mercer family that was instrumental in the Brexit vote,” she said, linking the annulled poll with the workings of the data company.

Privacy International, in a report published December last year, said that Cambridge Analytica did discretely work for President Kenyatta during his re-election campaign.

That firm “gathered survey data on Kenyans to aid the campaign and managed the president’s image,” Privacy International states, attributing its allegation to current and former Cambridge Analytica employees.

Cambridge Analytica refuted the claims and said that it was not involved in any negative political content.

VIDEO

In the face of being suspended by Facebook last week, and a subsequent undercover investigation in a three-part series titled ‘Data, Democracy and Dirty Tricks’ by Britain’s Channel 4 News, Cambridge Analytica has denied any wrong-doing.

“We have rebranded the entire (Jubilee) party twice, written their manifesto, done to rounds of 50,000 or so surveys… Then we’d write all the speeches, and we’d stage the whole thing. So just about every element of his campaign,” Mark Turnbull, the managing director of Cambridge Analytica’s Political Global, is quoted as saying to the TV’s undercover reporter in the video.

In response, the firm said Channel 4 had “grossly misrepresented" the conversations caught on camera.

"In playing along with this line of conversation, and partly to spare our 'client' from embarrassment, we entertained a series of ludicrous hypothetical scenarios," the company said in a statement.

"Cambridge Analytica does not condone or engage in entrapment, bribes or so-called 'honeytraps'," it said.