Executives at Cambridge Analytica, the data analytics company linked to the Trump campaign, have been secretly filmed offering to entrap politicians through seduction or bribery.
The comments were recorded by a reporter from Channel 4 News in Britain, posing as a prospective client who wanted to get candidates elected in Sri Lanka. Filmed during a series of meetings over four months, between November 2017 and January 2018, the footage was broadcast in London on Monday night.
Cambridge CEO Alexander Nix tells the journalist they can “offer them [political rivals] a deal that’s too good to be true and make sure that that’s video recorded” or “send some girls around to the candidate’s house.”
“Please don’t pay too much attention to what I’m saying, because I’m just giving you examples of what can be done and what has been done,” Nix says in the video.
Nix told the BBC’s Newsnight program that the report was a “misrepresentation of the facts” and said he felt the firm had been “deliberately entrapped”.
“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.
The Channel 4 reports follows investigations published by The Observer and The New York Times which allege Cambridge Analytica illegitimately used Facebook data of 50 million users to feeds its digital marketing techniques.
Channel 4 is also reporting that UK’s Information Commissioner is planning to seek a warrant to look at the databases and servers used by Cambridge Analytica.
Facebook calls in digital forensics firm
Meanwhile Facebook has hired a digital forensics firm, Stroz Friedberg, to conduct a comprehensive audit of Cambridge Analytica, to see if they’ve still got the Facebook data at the centre of the NYT/Observer investigation.
The auditors were at Cambridge Analytica’s London office today but at the request of the UK Information Commissioner’s Office, which has announced it is pursuing a warrant to conduct its own on-site investigation, the Stroz Friedberg auditors stood down, Facebook said.
Facebook’s chief information security office Alex Stamos is also leaving the company in August. The New York Times reports Stamos is leaving amid a disagreement about how to handle to the backlash about Facebook being used to spread disinformation.
Facebook stock is down 7 per cent since the Cambridge story broke.