Alt-right strategist Steve Bannon used Cambridge Analytica to create an “extremist insurgency” in the United States, a whistleblower has said.
Speaking on an American University Radio station, promoting his new book, Christopher Wylie said that when Steve Bannon became involved with the disgraced tech firm, he changed its strategy to target vulnerable people with alt-right ideas.
“Rather than trying to mitigate an extremist insurgency in certain parts of the world, he wanted to essentially catalyze one in the United States”.
Cambridge Analytica closed in 2018 over allegations that it harvested personal data from millions of people, without their consent, to use for political campaigns, notably Donald Trump’s presidential election.
Wylie, who worked as a researcher for the company, helped to expose this wrongdoing, and has now disclosed Bannon’s personal involvement in more detail.
He said that Bannon – who worked as Cambridge Analytica’s research director for a year and a half, before becoming one of Trump’s 2016 campaign managers – wanted to create a right-wing cultural shift in America. Wylie said:
“When Steve Bannon took over, he wasn’t just concerned about particular elections. He followed this notion of the Breitbart doctrine, which is that politics exists downstream from culture.”
“They targeted people who were more prone to conspiratorial thinking. They used that data, and they used social media more broadly, to first identify those people, and then engage those people, and really begin to craft what, in my view, was an insurgency in the United States.”
“The thing that I was building on originally for the defense of our democracies had been completely inverted to really, in my view, attack our democracies.”
Wylie went on to say that, while the company no longer exists, some of its former employees are using similar tactics elsewhere, including through the 2020 Trump campaign.
“We have a completely unregulated digital landscape,” Wylie said.
“There is almost no oversight. We are placing blind trust in companies like Facebook to do the honourable and decent thing.”
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