Political marketing firm Cambridge Analytica supposedly “weaponized fashion brands” to help put President Trump into office. Christopher Wylie announced this surprising news at Business of Fashion’s Voices conference on Thursday.

The former director of research for the marketing firm first became a whistleblower earlier this year when he revealed that Cambridge Analytica had misused data of millions of Facebook users.

Wylie presented evidence at Voices that shows Cambridge Analytica had used Facebook users’ preferences for fashion brands to build algorithms to target users with messaging to endorse Trump during the 2016 presidential election campaigns. Wylie explained that a fondness of certain fashion labels can typically a signal of susceptibility to populist political messaging.

“The difference between Facebook and the NSA is simple but profound,” Wylie said. “The NSA’s targets are extremists, foreign spies… on Facebook you are the target.”

Cambridge Analytica used five psychological and personality traits including agreeableness and neuroticism, indicated by a like of brands including Nike and Louis Vuitton, to target selected Facebook users with political messaging. The firm assumed which users would respond to pro-Trump messaging by determining which fashion brands they liked.

 

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