Flynn reveals ties to Cambridge Analytica

By Laurie Bennett

August 4, 2017 at 5:26am

In yet another revised financial disclosure filing, former national security adviser Michael Flynn will reveal ties to the big-data firm central to the Trump campaign, the Associated Press reports.

Flynn, who failed to mention contacts with Russian officials when he was questioned by investigators in February 2016, also neglected to mention his contract with Cambridge Analytica.

The company assembles detailed voter profiles in an effort to influence election outcomes. Steve Bannon, adviser to the president, is a former officer of Cambridge. Hedge funder Robert Mercer, a major contributor to the Trump campaign, is an investor.

The company used Facebook throughout the campaign not only to gather personal information about voters, but to strategically place “dark posts” - newsfeed entries seen only by targeted users. Such posts could be framed to sway votes or to suppress them.

When Bloomberg reporters were granted access to Trump’s digital headquarters in October, a senior official told them, “We have three major voter suppression operations under way.”

These efforts focused on three groups: white liberals, young women and African Americans. Dark posts targeting people in those groups, identified through Cambridge data, were placed on Facebook.

As the interactive Muckety map above shows, there’s another connection between the Trump campaign and Facebook. Peter Thiel, an early investor and director of the social network, was a member of the Trump transition team and a supporter of the campaign.

It’s unknown whether Thiel’s activities are being reviewed by special counsel Robert Mueller, who has empaneled a Washington grand jury in his investigation of Russian interference in the 2016 election.

The media will likely tread carefully in any coverage of Thiel, a billionaire who funded Hulk Hogan’s lawsuit against Gawker Media. The case resulted in a $140 million judgment against Gawker, which then went bankrupt.

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