Money & Power

How Cambridge Analytica Targeted L.L. Bean and Wrangler Customers in the 2016 U.S. Presidential Election

Christopher Wylie revealed that the company mined Facebook users' fashion preferences to help elect President Trump.
IMAGE GETTY IMAGES / SAMIR HUSSEIN
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Cambridge Analytica, the controversial British political marketing firm that helped with both the Trump and Brexit campaigns, targeted and classified individuals based on their clothing brand preferences, using those profiles to help find likely voters for Donald Trump campaign to be President of the United States.

Christopher Wylie (pictured above), the whistle-blower who first shed light on the company's misuse of the data belonging to 87 million Facebook profiles, revealed this information publicly earlier this week at VOICES, the Business of Fashion’s annual gathering. He told conference attendees that Cambridge Analytica used preferences for fashion labels such as Wrangler and L.L. Bean on Facebook as a means to build algorithms that targeted people with pro-Trump messaging during the 2016 campaign.

The technology, which was originally designed for cyber warfare was repurposed to influence politics. “Fashion data was used to build AI models to help Steve Bannon build his insurgency and build the alt-right,” Wylie said.

The whistle-blower also explained that clothing and fashion preferences are some of the leading indicators of political preferences. Brands like Wrangler and L.L. Bean are aligned with narratives that play on myths of the West and the frontier, which are notably the embraced by the Republican right. In contrast, Wylie asserted that fans of Kenzo and Opening Ceremony were more likely to have a liberal streak.

This revelation follows the news this past March of the larger data breach that showed that Cambridge Analytica had harvested data from the profiles of more than 80 million Facebook users without their knowledge or consent.

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This story originally appeared on Townandcountrymag.com.
* Minor edits have been made by the Townandcountry.ph editors.

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Roxanne Adamiyatt
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