Cambridge Analytica data analysis drives Ted Cruz presidential campaign

In what proved to be the first of several years of scandals over the use of personal data in illegal, anti-democratic campaigning, in 2015 the Guardian discovered that Ted Cruz's campaign for the US presidency paid at least $750,000 that year to use tens of millions of profiles of Facebook users gathered without their permission by Cambridge Analytica, owned by London-based Strategic Communications Laboratories. Financially supported by leading Republican donor Robert Mercer, CA amassed these profiles by analysing billions of "Likes" and personal information supplied by individuals recruited on Amazon's Mechanical Turk. It received a further estimated $2.5 million in funding over 2014 and 2015 from conservative super PACs that Mercer or his family members also supported. In interviews, Cruz described his funding model as similar to that of the campaigns for Barack Obama - data-driven and grassroots-driven. CA had also worked with Republican candidate Ben Carson. Facebook said it was investigating the campaign's use of data, saying that misleading people or misusing their information was a direct violation of the company's policies.

Writer: Harry Davies
Publication: Guardian
Publication date: 2015-12-11