DES MOINES, Iowa — “Absolutely not. I don’t think it had anything to do with how Trump was elected,” said Ann Robinson of West Des Moines. “I think he got elected because people voted for him. I mean, there was information coming in from the media on all sources, so I feel like Facebook played no more important role than the newspapers, the news stories.”
Robinson believes Facebook and the information it provided to Cambridge Analytica did not play a role in getting Donald Trump elected, but Justin Wise of Think Digital, disagrees.
“The way that they used the information was a textbook example of how to use the information that`s available to you, to me, to any business out there that would want to advertise on Facebook,” said Wise. “We all have access to that, those tools. We can leverage and acquire data. So, if you have an email list as a business, let’s say. You can feed that email list into Facebook, and say hey Facebook, go find the accounts that are attached to these email addresses and then show them this ad. On a small scale, that’s what Cambridge Analytica did. And that same ability is there for you, it’s there for me. It’s there for any business out there.”
In June of 2016, the Trump campaign hired Cambridge Analytica to take over its data operations.
“The mechanics of it, how they did it, what they did with the information was brilliant,” said Wise. “It was a great strategy and it totally worked. The campaign that hired Cambridge Analytica got their candidate in the White House.”
Cambridge Analytica specializes in what`s called ‘psychographic’ profiling, which means they use data collected online to create personality profiles for voters. They then take that information and target individuals with specifically tailored content. But that process has caused controversy and Facebook has drawn criticism because of it. The Facebook-Cambridge Analytica scandal has highlighted the lack of privacy protections in the U.S., and caused some who use Facebook to question just how clear the social media platform is with its users about its terms of service.
“For me personally, I try and lock it up, my profile, as much as I can,” said Danny Higgins. “Even debated just getting rid of it completely. But, I definitely don’t want my information shared unless I consent to it, you know, either through the social media or whatever it may be.”