“How on earth did Donald Trump win the presidency when he lost the popular vote by such historic margins? Weaponizing Facebook was a huge factor.”
The evil genius of Cambridge Analytica was to exploit those we trust most
How on earth did Donald Trump win the presidency when he lost the popular vote by such historic margins?
To put this in perspective: John Kerry lost the popular vote in 2004 by almost the same number of votes as Donald Trump 12 years later.
This is not a small question, to be noodled over by disgruntled Democrats and political scientists. It lies at the heart of the likely impeachment of Trump himself, and it will dominate at least the next two US elections.
The answer is fundamental to our democratic culture of fair elections, the rule of law, the role of technology and the free media.
Now there are any numbers of factors that could have swung 40,000 votes in three states – Michigan, Wisconsin and Pennsylvania – which created the catastrophic fluke of the Trump presidency in the electoral college.
But there are no factors as large and persistent as a weaponized Facebook – the trusted and entirely unregulated delivery vehicle for an astonishing amount of highly targeted disinformation.
Without Facebook, there would have been no Pizzagate, and the hacked DNC emails would have struggled to reach their intended audience. The strangely Russia-loving Green party would never have tallied enough votes to skew those three battleground states towards Trump.
All roads lead to Facebook and the small company that plundered its vast user data: Cambridge Analytica. Together the social network looks less like a group of friends and more like the Silk Road black market of arms and drugs dealers.
Thanks to the reporting of the Observer, the Guardian and Channel 4, we now know that Cambridge Analytica could happily arrange for a candidate to fall into a compromising scandal with a Ukraine prostitute or a bribery sting.