Cambridge Analytica: Next, Their Links to Russian Propaganda

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With the welter of news today from Britain’s Channel Four News and the New York Times and Guardian, it may seem that there can be nothing more to report. But the mainstream media’s welcome refocus on this firm has still not cracked the single most important part of this story: the coordination between the Trump Campaign’s data team and Russian intelligence, which used targeting data from Cambridge Analytica.

We believe that the next shoe to drop in mainstream reporting – we cannot, however, say when –  will be Cambridge Analytica’s ties to Russian intelligence via Steve Bannon, Mike Flynn and the FISA warrant subject servers tied to the Trump Campaign. Here’s why.

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Nov 7th 2016: I report a FISA warrant targeted on two Russian banks, Alfa Bank and SVB Bank, which had a Memorandum of Understanding with Sberbank, and their communications with the Trump Organization.

Nov 26, 2016: I reported for Heat Street that Steve Bannon was standing to profit from his Cambridge Analytica Board seat and – pathetically – I asked for Peter Thiel and Facebook to stop this (!) . It was just after the election, and at Heat Street we didn’t know that Facebook and Thiel were complicit. The piece asked Peter Thiel, with his transition role, to stop Steve Bannon profiting with Cambridge Analytica.

Most coverage has focused on Mr. Bannon’s involvement with Breitbart News, and his deep links to the alt-right movement.
However, Facebook and Mr. Zuckerberg may take much more exception to the work of Cambridge Analytica, the data company firm in which the Mercers have a stake.
That firm reportedly used Facebook to target its users with psychological messaging and profiles without their consent. Reportedly, Steve Bannon is on the board of the company:

In April 2017 we reported, now here at Patribotics – in a rather garbled passage –  that Cambridge Analytica targeting data and the Russian state’s propaganda makers were working together.

The voter registration databases were being “washed”, I reported, with Russian intelligence created memes and Cambridge Analytica targeting data

 our most recent exclusive story reported that intelligence sources say the Alfa Bank server was passing voter database info to and from the Russian state, and then handing this info to SCL and Cambridge Analytica (ultimately owned by Alfa Bank) for targeting by the Trump campaign with propaganda.

My main piece summarizing “a social media impeachment” put it rather more clearly:

Cambridge Analytica and SCL use Facebook data they had no right to acquire, illegally stolen by a Russian spy working at Cambridge, to build an unbeatable target database of propaganda.

In the closing days of the election, the Russian state hacked into the voter rolls of the United States. Russian intelligence did this in order that they could provide this information to Alfa Bank in order to use Cambridge Analytica’s targeting, and SCL’s propaganda, in order precisely to target voters and tip them to Trump.

After that, I reported on “Mike Flynn’s Treason Tour” arguing that General Mike Flynn had “coordinated” Cambridge Analytica- data driven propaganda for Russia and Trump across Europe; Marine Le Pen in France, Viktor Orban in Hungary, Assad in Syria, and pro-Putin messaging around the world. My reporting was not that Mike Flynn physically traveled but that he supervised Europe-wide propaganda:

Fake news in the 2016 election was not, in fact, fake news. It was real propaganda, coordinated and paid for by the Russian state. General Flynn was actively involved on Russia’s behalf, sources say, with discussing how this propaganda could be used and targeted across Europe and elsewhere, as well as in Donald Trump’s campaign.

…..

However, Flynn did not stop there. With the full knowledge of both Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin, “General Misha” continued his Nazi “tour of Europe”, with meetings both in Europe and of the EU far right at Trump Tower, discussing how the Russian propaganda of SCL could be targeted directly in their countries in order to swing their elections. Notably, Flynn was caught with the head of the far-right party in Austria. This man was  then invited by Donald Trump to the inauguration. Other far-right Russian allies invited to the inauguration, or who came to meet Trump Russia associates at Trump tower, and who were assisted by the Russian botnet and Russian propaganda, include Marine Le Pen and Nigel Farage.

In that April 16th, 2017 piece I also fingered Alex Kogan and Dimitry Firtash, under a red warrant by the FBI, for starting the operation at Cambridge University that would become Cambridge Analytica. And I called Alex Kogan “probably” a Russian spy:

The technology behind Cambridge Analytica’s targeting was stolen from Facebook by Alexander Kogan, who has gone to Singapore and renamed himself Alex Spectre. In many ways, the Trump-Russia story begins and ends at Cambridge University. Dimtry Firtash, the corrupt Russian oligarch who is Paul Manafort’s patron, gave Cambridge £6 million pounds  since 2010. With that money evidently came a large ring of Russian spies, probably including Kogan.

Scot Sedition” August 4th, 2017, the result of crowdsourced journalism by Team Patriot, broke the news that GCHQ, the UK’s version of the NSA, had taped Donald Trump and his team in Trump Turnberry, Scotland, the weekend after Brexit, fueled by Cambridge Analytica, points out that Mike Flynn had amended his FARA to say he worked for SCL (Cambridge Analytica’s propaganda arm) and that Dan Scavino was helping Mike Flynn liase with Russian intelligence. I say “confirmed” as when I published my piece on Flynn, he had not in fact declared he was working with SCL/Cambridge Analytica.

Our report saying Flynn coordinated Trump and Russia propaganda was April 2017; Flynn amended his FARA to include SCL in August 2017.

It was recently confirmed in the mainstream media that Mike Flynn had amended his disclosures to show he took money from SCL, the propaganda arm of Cambridge Analytica.

Cambridge Analytica had worked with Arron Banks and Nigel Farage on Brexit. Flynn’s propaganda derived from Russia – we now know that SCL was creating the content. This ties Cambridge Analytica and SCL inexorably to Donald Trump.

Dan Scavino, Trump’s social media manager, was there. He relentlessly co-ordinated with Russia. I will report separately upon his part in Trump-Russia. The SCL propaganda floated by Cambridge Analytica and pushed by Flynn for Russia was coordinated through Scavino.

Finally we reported that SVB Bank – named in the FISA warrant on Oct 15th – which signed a memorandum of understanding with Sberbank, and is linked to VEB Bank – had passed Cambridge Analytica targeting data to Trump/Russia. We also reported that Cambridge Analytica’s targeting partners, Campaign Solutions, and the Mercers “Great America PAC”, had been targeted by the FBI

Great America PAC also spent on Campaign Solutions and on WorldNetDaily for “Online Voter Contact”.

World Net Daily is a fake news pusher. The FBI investigated, on Election Day, for links to Russia, accounts and individuals pushing fake news about the election.

Campaign Solutions worked with Cambridge Analytica when placing targeted ads on behalf of John Bolton; these are Robert Mercer supported entities. Cambridge Analytica is under FBI investigation and the SVB server, which sent its targeting to the Trump Server, was, we report, the subject of a FISA warrant obtained by James Comey on Oct 15, 2016. According to Ad Age, Campaign Solutions began working with this major target of Mueller’s inquiry as far back as 2014:

So what is “next” in Cambridge Analytica reporting is – we hope – an examination of how the Mercers and Steve Bannon worked with them and Russian intelligence to create and target memes for Donald Trump’s campaign. More original reporting on this is coming  shortly.

Credit Where Credit Is Due – Cambridge Analytica Facebook Scraping Reported in the Observer Back In 2015

With the welter of reports on Cambridge Analytica over the weekend, there has been a perception that the issue is “new” – particularly the issue of how Facebook and Cambridge Analytica partnered on the theft of Americans and Britons’ Facebook data.

This story was, however, not at all new. For those who have been following Trump Russia from the start, Cambridge Analytica was reported on while the 2016 election was happening and throughout 2017.

The key piece of investigative journalism was that of Harry Fox Davies, three years ago. Davies reported almost every element of this weekend’s stories back then, including:

Cambridge Analytica scraped Facebook data illegally using a research quiz

They stole data from those who took the quiz and from their friends who did not 

Facebook said in 2015 that they were “investigating” this.

Mr. Davies reported:

Kogan established his own company in spring that year and began working with SCL to deliver a “large research project” in the US. His stated aim was to get as close to every US Facebook user into the dataset as possible.

The academic used Amazon’s crowdsourcing marketplace Mechanical Turk (MTurk) to access a large pool of Facebook profiles, hoovering up tens of thousands of individuals’ demographic data – names, locations, birthdays, genders – as well as their Facebook “likes”, which offer a range of personal insights.

This was achieved by recruiting MTurk users by paying them about one dollar to take a personality questionnaire that gave access to their Facebook profiles. This raised the alarm among some participants, who flagged Kogan for violating MTurk’s terms of service. “They want you to log into Facebook and then download a bunch of your information,” complained one user at the time.

Crucially, Kogan also captured the same data for each person’s unwitting friends. For every individual recruited on MTurk, he harvested information about their friends, meaning the dataset ballooned significantly in size. Research shows that in 2014, Facebook users had an average of around 340 friends.

The new element in this weekend’s Guardian story  is the testimony of a whistleblower, who will now come before the Commons Select Committee next week. That committee will very likely want to ask Facebook – who have announced an “investigation” after the Guardian story – what happened to the “investigation” they promised after the first Guardian report three years ago:

…Facebook said the company was “carefully investigating this situation” …

“[M]isleading people or misusing their information is a direct violation of our policies and we will take swift action against companies that do, including banning those companies from Facebook and requiring them to destroy all improperly collected data,” a Facebook spokesman said in a statement to the Guardian.

The Guardian piece of the weekend restates Harry Davies work, but neither mentions the original reporter, nor links to his piece. The Guardian’s splash “The Cambridge Analytica Files” starts out with two articles from March 2017. Those are the earliest pieces to which the paper gives credit.

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Mr. Davies expose of the Facebook data breach by Cambridge Analytica was published in December, 2015.

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