Former White House senior strategist Steve Bannon and billionaire Robert Mercer sought Cambridge Analytica’s political ad targeting technology as part of an “arsenal of weapons to fight a culture war”, according to whistleblower Christopher Wylie. “Steve Bannon believes that politics is downstream from culture. They were seeking out companies to build an arsenal of weapons to fight a culture war,” Wylie said, when asked why investors thought that the political consultancy’s efforts would work, targeting people based on psychological profiles and assessment of their personality. The pink-haired 28-year-old was appearing to give evidence on Capitol Hill for the first time since his decision to blow the whistle on the use of Facebook data by Cambridge Analytica set off shock waves that are still reverberating through Westminster, Washington DC and Silicon Valley. During his testimony to the Senate judiciary committee, Wylie also confirmed that he believed one of the goals of Steve Bannon while he was vice-president of Cambridge Analytica was voter suppression. “One of the things that provoked me to leave was discussions about ‘voter disengagement’ and the idea of targeting African Americans,” he said, noting he had seen documents referencing this.
Facebook posts were targeted at some black voters reminding them of Hillary Clinton’s 1990s description of black youths as “super predators”, in the hope it would deter them from voting.
Wylie also explained why Cambridge Analytica was testing messages such as “drain the swamp” and “build the wall” in 2014, before the Trump campaign existed. “The company learned that there were segments of the populace that were responsive to these messages that weren’t necessarily reflected in other polling,” he said.
The whistleblower previously revealed to the Observer that the political consultancy used the personal data of tens of millions of Facebook profiles to help Donald Trump’s election and the Brexit leave campaign.