Cambridge Analytica began testing out pro-Trump slogans in 2014 — the same year Russia launched its influence operation targeting the 2016 election

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alexander nix

  • The Trump campaign-linked data firm Cambridge Analytica began testing out slogans like "Drain the Swamp" and "Build the Wall" the same year Russia began its social media influence operation targeting the 2016 election.
  • Cambridge Analytica has denied any links to Russian entities or individuals.
  • The firm attracted scrutiny when a whistleblower said Cambridge Analytica executives met with executives of a sanctioned Russian oil producer in 2014 and 2015 to discuss politically targeting messages toward American voters.
  • Cambridge Analytica executives were also secretly filmed boasting about how they used shadowy online propaganda tools to help Donald Trump win the 2016 US election.

The London-based data firm Cambridge Analytica was testing out slogans like "Drain the Swamp" and "Build the Wall" as early as 2014, the same year Russia launched its social media influence operation targeting the 2016 US election.

Those slogans would later become the bedrock of Republican nominee Donald Trump’s platform while he campaigned for the presidency. He invoked them frequently at his rallies, and his supporters often chanted them.

"We were testing all kinds of messages and all kinds of imagery, which included images of walls, people scaling walls," Christopher Wylie, a former employee at Cambridge Analytica, told CNN. "We tested ‘drain the swamp’ … ideas of the deep state and the NSA watching you and the government is conspiring against you."

"And a lot of these narratives, which at the time would have seemed crazy for a mainstream candidate to run on, those were the things that we were finding that there were pockets of Americans who this really appealed to," Wylie added.

Steve Bannon, the former White House chief strategist and Trump campaign CEO, sat on the data firm’s board of directors, which is largely backed by Republican megadonor Robert Mercer.

Wylie said Monday that Bannon’s push for the Trump campaign to endorse far-right positions on issues like immigration and law enforcement largely stemmed from Cambridge Analytica’s research on those topics.

The Trump campaign hired Bannon in the summer of 2016. Around the same time, it also tapped Cambridge Analytica to manage its data operation.

A Trump aide told Wired that the firm played a "key role" in identifying political donors that helped them raise $80 million in July 2016.

"I was surprised when I saw the Trump campaign, and when it started talking about, you know, building walls or draining the swamp, and I’m remembering in my head, ‘Wait we tested this,’" Wylie told CNN.

CA executives caught bragging about winning Trump the election

(L R) Turnbull and Nix Cambridge Analytica 2

On Tuesday, UK’s Channel 4 published video footage of Cambridge Analytica executives boasting about how they used online propaganda tools to help Trump win the election.

In one exchange, the firm’s CEO, Alexander Nix, told an undercover reporter that he had personally met Trump "many times" and spelled out what the firm undertook for the then-Republican candidate.

"We did all the research, all the data, all the analytics, all the targeting, we ran all the digital campaign, the digital campaign, the television campaign and our data informed all the strategy," he was filmed saying.

In another conversation, Cambridge Analytica’s Chief Data Scientist Alexander Tayler argued how the firm’s work helped Trump emerge victorious.

"When you think about the fact that Donald Trump lost the popular vote by three million votes but won the Electoral College vote that’s down to the data and the research," he said.

The news came following a separate Channel 4 report on Monday, in which executives talked about tactics the firm used to push out damaging material on its clients’ opponents.

Mark Turnbull, the managing director of Cambridge Analytica Political Global, told an undercover Channel 4 reporter posing as a client, "We just put information into the bloodstream of the internet, and then, and then watch it grow, give it a little push every now and again … like a remote control."

Turnbull added, "It has to happen without anyone thinking, ‘that’s propaganda,’ because the moment you think ‘that’s propaganda,’ the next question is, ‘who’s put that out?’"

Nix denied any wrongdoing in a statement after the investigation was published, adding that executives were "playing along" with the undercover reporter to "spare" him "from embarrassment."

The firm suspended Nix as CEO on Tuesday.

CA’s shadowy Russia ties

christopher wylie cambridge analyticaCambridge Analytica has long faced questions from investigators over its potential engagement with foreign actors, like Russia and WikiLeaks, during the 2016 election.

Last year, it emerged that Congressional lawmakers were probing whether voter information that Russian hackers stole from election databases in several states made its way to the Trump campaign. Investigators are also examining whether the Trump campaign’s data firms coordinated with Russia to disseminate fake news and propaganda in particular states and districts.

Cambridge Analytica’s technique of pushing information onto the internet as described by Turnbull appears to bear some similarities to Russia’s actions when it carried out a large-scale and widespread social media influence operation targeting the 2016 election.

The main organization responsible for Russia’s influence operation was the Internet Research Agency, a notorious "troll farm" based in St. Petersburg.

The IRA was one of several Russia-linked entities and individuals special counsel Robert Mueller indicted in February for conspiring to interfere in the election.

"Beginning as early as 2014," the IRA "began operations to interfere with the US political system, including the 2016 US presidential election," according to the indictment. The IRA received millions in funding from Yevgeniy Prigozhin, a Russian businessman and close ally of Russian President Vladimir Putin.

The IRA registered with the Russian government as a corporate entity in July 2013, the court filing said.

In April 2014, the IRA formed the "translator project," which was focused on the US and conducted operations on popular social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and YouTube, according to the indictment. By July 2016, more than 80 employees were working on the "translator project."

By the time the Trump campaign hired Cambridge Analytica in June 2016, Russia had decided to throw its support behind elevating Trump to the presidency.

The IRA and the 13 Russian nationals who were indicted then began pushing out pro-Trump propaganda and fake news meant to sow discord and discourage voters from casting ballots for Trump’s opponent, Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton.

When British investigators asked Cambridge Analytica CEO Alexander Nix if the firm had any links to Russia, he replied, "We’ve never worked with a Russian organization in Russia or any other country, and we don’t have any relationship with Russia or Russian individuals."

But Wylie’s account of the firm’s activities appears to contradict Nix’s claim. Wylie told The New York Times last weekend that the Russian oil giant Lukoil repeatedly showed an interest in how Cambridge Analytica used data to target messages toward American voters.

Cambridge Analytica executives reportedly met at least three times with Lukoil executives in 2014 and 2015, around when Cambridge Analytica began testing out pro-Trump slogans and Russia’s influence campaign was in its nascent stages.

According to Wylie, the meetings involved discussions of how to harvest information from social media to create politically targeted messages toward American voters.

"I remember being super confused," Wylie told The Times. He reportedly attended one of the meetings between Lukoil and Cambridge Analytica executives, which included Nix.

"I kept asking Alexander, ‘Can you explain to me what they want?’" Wylie recalled. "I don’t understand why Lukoil wants to know about political targeting in America. We’re sending them stuff about political targeting — they then come and ask more about political targeting."

He added that Lukoil "just didn’t seem to be interested" in how the firm’s techniques could be used commercially.

Lukoil has been used as a tool of the Russian government in the past, and it was one of five major Russian oil producers the US banned when former President Barack Obama imposed sweeping sanctions on Russia in 2014 as punishment for its aggression toward neighboring Ukraine.

On Friday, Facebook announced that it had removed Cambridge Analytica from its platform after it emerged that the firm harvested the personal data of 50 million Facebook users for targeted political advertisements without their permission.

SEE ALSO: Trump’s lawyers turn over written documents to Mueller in the Russia probe

Join the conversation about this story »

NOW WATCH: Harvard professor Steven Pinker explains the disturbing truth behind Trump’s 2 favorite phrases

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Facebook has lost $60 billion in value

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Facebook has lost $60 billion in value

Facebook is having a bad day… for the second day in a row. Following the Cambridge Analytica debacle, Facebook shares (NASDAQ:FB) are currently trading at $164.07, down 4.9 percent compared to yesterday’s closing price of $172.56.

More importantly, if you look at Monday and Tuesday combined, Facebook shares are down 11.4 percent compared to Friday’s closing price of $185.09. In other words, Facebook was worth $537.69 billion on Friday evening when it comes to market capitalization. And Facebook is now worth $476.83 billion.

That’s how you lose $60 billion in market cap.

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Extreme Engineering: The mindboggling Watkins M001

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Extreme motorcycle engineering: The mindboggling Watkins M001
Curiosity is a powerful motivator. When Jack Watkins first spotted Stellan Egeland’s BMW Harrier, he was curious about how the suspension worked—and that curiosity wouldn’t let up. Fast forward nine years, and we have this incredible contraption built around the powertrain of a BMW R1150 RT.

The pseudonymous ‘Jack’ holds a PhD in mechanical design, and works for an industrial firm in Gdańsk, Poland, where he heads up a design office of some thirty engineers. Plus he’s a lecturer and researcher at the Gdańsk University of Technology. So if anyone’s qualified to scratch that sort of itch, it’s him.

Extreme motorcycle engineering: The mindboggling Watkins M001
It started with Jack figuring out and reconstructing the Harrier’s front suspension design digitally. The design was then shelved for a while, before being resurrected, reworked, and fleshed out into a full motorcycle. Another four years later, and the Watkins M001 was finally complete.

It could have been done quicker—but Jack has work and a family to juggle. So the project was relegated to evenings only. He doesn’t have the experience (or workshop) to build such a machine, either. So he turned to Mateusz Kozlowski at Moto Spec in Gdańsk for help.

Extreme motorcycle engineering: The mindboggling Watkins M001
The bike’s individual parts came from the network of suppliers and craftsmen that Jack had built up at his day job. But all the assembly and mechanical work was done by the pair at Moto Spec, guided by Mateusz’s knowledge.

As you can see, the work was extensive. Beyond the power plant and some of the running gear, the Watkins M001 is almost entirely custom-made—like some oversized, mind-bending LEGO Technic set.

Extreme motorcycle engineering: The mindboggling Watkins M001
At its heart is a 2002 BMW R 1150 RT motor, transmission and final drive. It’s easy to assume Jack sourced an 1150 and stripped it, but in fact he only bought what he needed. “I went to the guy, rode the bike, and just after that we disassembled it,” he tells us. “After a few hours, I had the engine in my trunk.”

The rear shock’s from the 1150 too, but the rear wheel is a BMW GS unit. Up front is a Yamaha XJ6 wheel with a milled hub, hooked up to Jack’s one-off hub-steered front suspension system.

Extreme motorcycle engineering: The mindboggling Watkins M001
Jack shared several CAD drawings and exploded diagrams of the setup, and we had to lie down afterwards. There are roughly a hundred components in play—including eight roller bearings and ten sliding bearings.

But Jack’s biggest challenges lay elsewhere: the space he had to work with, and the choice of the XJ6 front wheel, which wasn’t an easy fit.

Extreme motorcycle engineering: The mindboggling Watkins M001
“Despite all the technical problems related to the functional aspects, I wanted to keep it in a different form,” he says. Nevertheless, he checked every last bit by running every simulated test under the sun.

The shocks are from Moto Guzzi V750. “I made an analysis which proved those particular ones would be OK,” says Jack. “I found them at a good price on the internet, as well. That matters when you’re building for yourself after hours!”

Extreme motorcycle engineering: The mindboggling Watkins M001
The M001’s main body is essentially two sheets of laser-cut steel, bent in six places—with a few hidden pieces to stabilize the structure. It was impossible to weld up without a jig, so Jack had to design and manufacture that too.

The other trick was to get the mounting points to line up with those on the engine, so there was significant 3D scanning involved.

Extreme motorcycle engineering: The mindboggling Watkins M001
Hiding under the panels is a small framework that holds the electrical components. Up top, Jack designed three aluminum panels for the seat, sending them to a local craftsman for upholstery.

Everything was designed to tuck together as tightly as possible, to leave space for a generous fuel tank. In the end, Jack managed to squeeze in a 16-liter (4.2 gallon) reservoir—but volume was only half the battle.

Extreme motorcycle engineering: The mindboggling Watkins M001
“I had to figure out how to carry load from the rear shock through the tank,” he explains. “So inside the tank there is a spatial structure guiding the load to fixing points.”

The fuel pump is mounted in there too, and the filler cap sits just in front of the seat. The rear end is finished off with a unique polycarbonate finned structure, which hides the tank and also provides a mounting system for the taillight and license plate.

Extreme motorcycle engineering: The mindboggling Watkins M001
Jack says he used steel for the body to save cost, but will use aluminum next time around. “I was not sure if I could fit it all together the first time,” he says. “I was prepared for big mistakes, but it wasn’t that bad after all. Just a few single components had to be scrapped.”

He did use high-strength 7075 aluminum for the M001’s moving parts though, citing safety as a factor overriding cost. And he’s used the same alloy on some less important parts too, for a consistent effect after anodizing. All the components were either CNC machined, or laser cut, milled and bent.

Extreme motorcycle engineering: The mindboggling Watkins M001
Even the exhaust is excessively complex, and we love it. It’s built from stainless steel, ending in a box that has two layers and eighty-four screws. “It took me almost five hours to assemble it,” says Jack. “The noise is, I would say, unique.”

In contrast, the cockpit’s been kept pretty simple: standard switches of unknown origin, bar-end turn signals and mirrors, and a KOSO speedo. “There is so much happening on the bike that I decided not to go crazy with those details,” he explains. “They simply do not exist when you see the machine.”

Extreme motorcycle engineering: The mindboggling Watkins M001
The amount of work it took to create the Watkins M001 is as astounding as the bike itself. “The project is complex. The forces are analyzed, the kinematics checked, the material confirmed, the load calculated, drawings prepared, components ordered, online shopping done, the screws are counted… there is every aspect of industrial project inside.”

Jack’s also documented every last detail, which means that if he wants to, he can put together a comprehensive service manual for the M001.

Extreme motorcycle engineering: The mindboggling Watkins M001
But even with a manual in hand, I’d be too scared to turn even a single screw on this intriguing mechanical animal. It’s the most extreme example of motorcycle engineering we’ve seen since the Subaru-powered Madboxer.

How about you?

Watkins Motorworks | Images by Maciej Bejma.

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Do This 10-Minute Workout in Your Airplane Seat

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It’s a modern paradox that we only get the freedom of flying through the air when we are squeezed shoulder-to-shoulder with other humans for the duration. But you probably have a little wiggle room in that seat, and doing some exercises can help relieve that cramped feeling.

Staying in motion is also good for your health. The American Society of Hematology notes that if you want to prevent blood clots, the main risk of staying seated for so long, it’s good to get up and walk every couple of hours if you can. The next best thing, they say, is changing positions in your seat.

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So pull up this video the next time you’re stuck in that middle seat. In it, Andrea, founder and CEO of the and/life personal training app (free to download, $19.99/month subscription) guides you through 10 minutes of stretches and muscle contractions that will make your body feel like it’s moving, even if you’re kind of stuck in one place.

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#deletefacebook

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Facebook is using us. It is actively giving away our information. It is creating an echo chamber in the name of connection. It surfaces the divisive and destroys the real reason we began using social media in the first place – human connection.

It is a cancer.

I’ve begun the slow process of weaning myself off of the platform by methodically running a script that will delete my old content. And there’s a lot. There are likes and shares. There are long posts I wrote to impress my friends. There are thousands of WordPress notifications that tell the world what I’m doing. In fact, I would wager I use Facebook more to broadcast my ego than interact with real humans. And I suspect that most of us are in a similar situation.

There is a method to my madness. I like Facebook Messenger and I like that Facebook is now a glorified version of OAuth. It’s a useful tool when it is stripped of its power. However, when it is larded with my personal details it is a weapon and a liability.

Think about it: any posts older than about a week are fodder for bots and bad actors. Posts from 2016? 2017? Why keep them? No one will read them, no one cares about them. Those “You and Joe have known each other for five years” auto-posts are fun but does anyone care? Ultimately you’ve created the largest dossier on yourself and you’ve done it freely, even gleefully. This dossier reflects your likes, your dislikes, your feelings, and political leanings. It includes clear pictures of your face from all angles, images of your pets and family, and details your travels. You are giving the world unfettered access to your life. It’s wonderful to imagine that this data will be used by a potential suitor who will fall in love with your street style. It’s wonderful to imagine you will scroll through Facebook at 80 and marvel at how you looked at the turn of the century. It’s wonderful to imagine that Facebook is a place to share ideas, dreams, and hopes, a human-to-human connection engine that gives more than it takes.

None of that will happen.

Facebook is a data collection service for those who want to sell you products. It is the definitive channel to target you based on age, sex, geographic location, political leanings, interests, and marital status. It’s an advertiser’s dream and it is wildly expensive in terms of privacy lost and cash spent to steal that privacy. It is the perfect tool for marketers, a user-generated paradise that is now run by devils.

Will you delete Facebook? Probably not. Will I? I’m working on it. I’ve already been deleting old tweets after realizing that border police and potential employers may use what I write publicly against me. I’m clearing out old social media accounts and, as I mentioned before, deleting old Facebook posts, thus ensuring that I will no longer be a target for companies like Cambridge Analytica. But we love our social media, don’t we? The power it affords. The feeling of connection. In the absence of human interaction we cling to whatever dark simulacrum is available. In the absence of the Town Square we talk to ourselves. In the absence of love and understanding we join the slow riot of online indifference.

When Travis Kalanick led his ride-sharing company down the dark path to paranoia, bro culture, and classist rantings we reacted by deleting the app. We didn’t want to do business with that particular brand of company. Yet we sit idly by while Facebook sells us out and its management pummels and destroys all competition.

I wish it didn’t have to be this way. There is plenty of good in these platforms but the dangers far outweigh the benefits. Try to recall the last time you were thankful for social media. I can. It happened twice. First, it happened when I posted on my “wall” a eulogy for my father who died in January. The outpouring of support was heartening in a dark time. It was wonderful to see friends and acquaintances tell me their own stories, thereby taking the sting out of my own. But months later that good feeling is gone, replaced by ads for fancy shoes and political rants. Out of the Facebook swamp sometimes surfaces a pearl. But it sinks just as quickly.

One more sad example: I found out, accidentally, that my friend’s wife died. It appeared on my feed as if placed there by some divine hand and I was thankful it surfaced. It beat out videos of Mister Rogers saying inspiring things and goofy pictures of Trump. It beat out ads and rants and questions about the best sushi restaurant in Scranton. The stark announcement left me crying and breathless. There it was in black and blue, splashed across her page: she was gone. There was the smiling photo of her two little children and there was the outpouring of grief under these once innocuous photos. Gone, it said. She was gone. I found out from her wall where her memorial service would be held and I finally reached back out to my old friend to try to comfort him in his grief. Facebook, in those two instances, worked.

But Facebook isn’t the only thing that can give us that feeling of connectedness. We’ve had it for centuries.

Facebook simply replaced the tools we once used to tell the world of our joys and sorrows and it replaced them with cheap knock-offs that make us less connected, not more. Decades ago, on one coal-fogged winter morning in Krakow, Poland where I was living, I passed Kościół św. Wojciecha with its collection of nekrologi – necrologies – posted on a board in front of the church. There you saw the names of the dead – and sometimes the names of the newly born – and it was there you discovered what was happening in your little corner of the world. The church wasn’t far from the central square – the Rynek – and I walked there thinking about the endless parade of humanity that had walked across those cobbles, stopping for a moment in their hustle at the church yard to see who had died. I stood in the crisp air, flanked by centuries old brickwork, and imagined who once populated this place. This was the place you met your friends and your future partners. It was there you celebrated your successes and mourned your failures. It was there, among other humans, you told the world the story of your life, but told it slant. You witnessed kindnesses and cruelties, you built a world entire based on the happenings in a few square miles.

No more. Or, at least, those places are no longer available to most of us.

We’ve moved past the superstitions and mythologies of the past. Tools like Facebook were designed to connect us to the world, giving us an almost angelic view of daily happenstance. We replaced the churchyard with the “timeline.” But our efforts failed. We are still as closed, still full of superstition, as we were a hundred years ago. We traded a market square for the Internet but all of the closed-mindedness and cynicism came with it. We still disparage the outsider, we still rant against invisible enemies, and we still keep our friends close and fear what lies beyond our door. Only now we have the whole world on which to reflect our terror.

It doesn’t have to be this way. Maybe some day we’ll get the tools we need to interact with the world. Maybe they’re already here and we just don’t want to use them.

Until we find them, however, it’s probably better for us to delete the ones we use today.

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Here’s which generation you’re part of based on your birth year — and why those distinctions exist

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selfie millennials times square new york city

  • Pew Research Foundation recently established their definition of Millennials as anyone born between 1981 and 1996.
  • Defining generations helps researchers see how coming of age during certain historical events and technological changes affects the ways people see the world.
  • Pew thinks it’s still too early to define the generation that comes after Millennials — but some names that have been tossed around are the Post-Millennial generation or Generation Z.

The only generation officially designated by the US Census Bureau is the Baby Boomer Generation.

Yet that hasn’t stopped demographers from classifying other cohorts into ranges of birth years. Often, this is done  to better understand how formative experiences like world events or technological changes shape the ways people see and interact with the world.

Earlier this month, the Pew Research Center established official cutoff point for the end of the Millennial generation, formally designating Millennials as those born between 1981 and 1996.

In a an explanation of that decision, Pew president Michael Dimock wrote that generations are better viewed as a tool for understanding how perspectives and views change — not as strict categories that define who people are.

Older Millennials and younger Millennials probably feel differently about a number of topics, but most were between ages 5 and 20 when the 9/11 terrorist attacks happened. That means that those attacks and their aftermath loomed large as those people have become adults. The economic recession of 2008 — which came at a time when many Millennials were entering the workforce — played a significant role, too. Plus, as Dimock put it, "Millennials came of age during the internet explosion."

Here’s how Pew officially categorizes the generations by birth year at this point in time:

Which generation you're in based on your birth year chart_BI Graphics

The number of birth-years that a generation includes can vary. Millennials span a 16-year range, according to Pew. The Generation X cohort was another 16-year group, but the Boomers had a 19-year range and the Silent Generation an 18-year range.

Picking a cutoff year is complicated, of course, as groups change gradually over time.

"[T]he differences within generations can be just as great as the differences across generations, and the youngest and oldest within a commonly defined cohort may feel more in common with bordering generations than the one to which they are assigned," wrote Dimock.

Yet establishing a cutoff point helps researchers investigate how a group has been shaped by similar experiences.

Pew thinks it’s too early to define the generation that comes after Millennials, but some names that have been tossed around are the Post-Millennial generation or Generation Z. By the time people born in 1997 or later became teenagers, the US had largely become a place where it was possible to be constantly connected to the internet, usually with a mobile device (the iPhone launched in 2007). While Millennials largely adapted to social media and consistent connection to the internet, people born from the late 90s on probably don’t remember a time without those tools.

However, the kids being born now will likely be considered part of a new generation after Generation Z. 

Dimock said it’s always possible that new data could give researchers a reason to re-evaluate these generational boundaries, though. In the mean time, he said the group coming of age after Millennials will be especially interesting to follow.

"We look forward to spending the next few years studying this generation as it enters adulthood," Dimock wrote. "All the while, we’ll keep in mind that generations are a lens through which to understand societal change, rather than a label with which to oversimplify differences between groups."

SEE ALSO: Past generations left Millennials and future youth facing a crisis — and the clock is ticking

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NOW WATCH: What would happen if humans tried to land on Jupiter

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The CEO of Cambridge Analytica was secretly filmed offering to entrap politicians with bribes and sex workers

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(L R) Turnbull and Nix Cambridge Analytica 2

  • Channel 4 News secretly filmed Cambridge Analytica’s CEO, Alexander Nix, offering to entrap politicians with bribes and sex workers.
  • The bombshell investigation also shows Cambridge Analytica’s executives acknowledging that it discreetly seeded compromising videos of politicians on the internet and helped them go viral.
  • Cambridge Analytica has pushed back on allegations that it uses entrapment tactics. In a statement, Nix said he played along with the undercover reporter, who he thought was a client, to spare them from embarrassment.
  • The company was recently suspended by Facebook over a huge data scandal.

The CEO of Cambridge Analytica, the political-research company at the center of a massive Facebook-data scandal, has been secretly filmed offering shadowy services to entrap politicians.

The bombshell footage, broadcast Monday as part of an investigation by Channel 4 News, comes days after Facebook suspended Cambridge Analytica over an incident involving its harvesting of data from 50 million profiles.

An undercover Channel 4 News reporter filmed the data firm’s CEO, Alexander Nix, and his colleagues over four meetings from November to January. The journalist posed as a fixer for a wealthy client hoping to get candidates elected in Sri Lanka.

In one exchange filmed in January, Nix said Cambridge Analytica could send "somebody posing as a wealthy developer" to Sri Lanka to offer incumbent politicians a "large amount of money" in a "deal that’s too good to be true," such as for land.

"We’ll have the whole thing recorded on cameras, we’ll blank out the face of our guy, and then post it on the internet," Nix said on camera.

"These sorts of tactics are very effective, instantly having video evidence of corruption," he added.

Offering bribes to public officials is an offense under both the UK’s Bribery Act and the US’s Foreign Corrupt Practices Act. Cambridge Analytica operates in the UK and is registered in the US.

At the same meeting at London’s five-star Berkeley Hotel, Nix said Cambridge Analytica could "send some girls around to the candidate’s house — we have lots of history of things."

He added: "That was just an idea. I’m just saying we could bring some Ukrainians in on holiday with us, you know. You know what I’m saying."

In the footage, Mark Turnbull, the managing director of Cambridge Analytica Political Global, also described the company’s process of discreetly seeding compromising videos on the internet and helping them go viral.

Turnbull Cambridge Analytica

At a meeting in December, Turnbull told Channel 4’s reporter: "We just put information into the bloodstream of the internet, and then — and then watch it grow, give it a little push every now and again … like a remote control."

He also said: "It has to happen without anyone thinking ‘that’s propaganda,’ because the moment you think ‘that’s propaganda,’ the next question is ‘who’s put that out?’"

Channel 4 News’ investigation also accuses Cambridge Analytica of using "shadowy front companies" or subcontractors to achieve its aims.

You can watch excerpts from the secret filming below.

According to Channel 4 News, the executives also boasted that Cambridge Analytica and its parent company, Strategic Communications Laboratories Group, had worked in more than 200 elections across the world, including in Nigeria, Kenya, the Czech Republic, India, and Argentina. Cambridge Analytica also worked for Donald Trump’s presidential campaign in 2016.

Business Insider contacted Cambridge Analytica more than two hours before the Channel 4 investigation was broadcast, and a spokesman said it was "hard to reply to something we haven’t seen." But Business Insider understands that Channel 4 News sent the data firm a 20-page document a week ago detailing the allegations and the contents of the undercover filming.

The data firm told Channel 4 News, "We entirely refute any allegation that Cambridge Analytica or any of its affiliates use entrapment, bribes, or so-called ‘honey-traps’ for any purpose whatsoever," adding that "Cambridge Analytica does not use untrue material for any purpose."

A former Cambridge Analytica employee named Christopher Wylie recently detailed how the company harvested the Facebook data of millions of users and used the information to power software that helped target voters with personalized political advertising.

Channel 4 News says it will broadcast further allegations later this week about Cambridge Analytica’s work for the Trump campaign.

Update: A Cambridge Analytica representative emailed Business Insider with the company’s full statement soon after Channel 4 News’ investigation aired on British television.

It included a direct quote from Nix, saying he played along with the undercover reporter, who he thought was a client, to spare them from embarrassment.

Read the statement in full:

Cambridge Analytica held a series of meetings with the undercover reporter to discuss philanthropic, infrastructure, and political projects in Sri Lanka. While outlining the company’s services as a data-driven communications and marketing agency, a senior Cambridge Analytica executive clearly set out the principles which govern its work and said the following to the undercover reporter:

"We’re not in the business of fake news, we’re not in the business of lying, making stuff up, and we’re not in the business of entrapment … There are companies that do this but to me that crosses a line."

Despite this clear statement, the undercover reporter later attempted to entrap Cambridge Analytica executives by initiating a conversation about unethical practices. After several meetings discussing ostensibly legitimate projects, the reporter unexpectedly and suddenly turned the conversation towards practices such as corruption and the entrapment of political figures.

Assessing the legality and reputational risks associated with new projects is critical for us, and we routinely undertake conversations with prospective clients to try to tease out any unethical or illegal intentions. The two Cambridge Analytica executives at the meeting humoured these questions and actively encouraged the prospective client to disclose his intentions. They left with grave concerns and did not meet with him again.

We use meetings like this to make an informed decision about those whom we should or shouldn’t engage with, in line with the guidance laid out by Section 9 of the UK Bribery Act 2010. The company’s practice is for staff to gently de-escalate the conversation before removing themselves from the situation. However, CEO Alexander Nix acknowledges that on this occasion he misjudged the situation:

"In playing along with this line of conversation, and partly to spare our ‘client’ from embarrassment, we entertained a series of ludicrous hypothetical scenarios. I am aware how this looks, but it is simply not the case. I must emphatically state that Cambridge Analytica does not condone or engage in entrapment, bribes or so-called ‘honeytraps,’ and nor does it use untrue material for any purpose.

"I deeply regret my role in the meeting and I have already apologised to staff. I should have recognised where the prospective client was taking our conversations and ended the relationship sooner."

Cambridge Analytica is a high-profile company. While we work for clients from all sides of the political mainstream across many countries, some do not want it known that they are using a professional political consultancy. We understand this and allow our clients to work with us discreetly. This is not unusual in the industry.

Like any marketing agency, Cambridge Analytica uses social media platforms for placing paid advertisements and organic content. Influencer marketing and building grassroots networks on social media are both common activities for a modern political campaign.

SEE ALSO: Everything you need to know about Christopher Wylie, the 28-year-old who blew the lid off a huge Facebook data breach

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The amazing ways intermittent fasting affects your body and brain

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It’s odd to think that depriving yourself of a necessity for life might be one of the most powerful ways to transform your health.

Yet there’s more and more evidence for the idea that fasting could have powerful health benefits for both the body and brain.

There are many different forms of fasting, however, ranging from going extended periods of time without food to consistently eating less (perhaps cutting caloric intake by 20%) to intermittent or periodic fasting.

But of all these different kinds of fasting, intermittent fasting is very likely the most popular and certainly the trendiest one. Celebrity adherents include Hugh Jackman, Tim Ferriss, and Beyonce. In Silicon Valley, whole groups of self-optimization obsessed biohackers meet to collectively break their fast once a week, and executives at companies like Facebook say that fasting has helped them lose weight and have more energy.

The hard part about classifying "intermittent fasting" is that there are a number of different forms of this kind of fast. Intermittent fasting regimens range from only allowing yourself to consume calories within a certain span of the day, likely between six and 12 hours; to eating normally five days a week and dramatically cutting calories on two fasting days; to taking a 36-hour break from food every week.

The different forms these fasts can take mean that much of the research showing benefits might be true for one of these fasts but not necessarily others. But there is good research on several of these fasts indicating that the benefits of intermittent fasting go beyond weight loss. There may be real long-term disease-fighting health improvements.

Here’s what we know so far.

SEE ALSO: Fasting could prevent aging and transform your body, but it goes against everything we think of as healthy

A recent study suggests that intermittent fasting can do more than help people lose weight — it also may improve blood pressure and help the body process fat.

For this small study, researchers had overweight participants either cut calories every day or eat normally five days a week and only consume 600 calories on their two fasting days.

Both groups were able to lose weight successfully, though those on what’s known as the 5:2 diet did so slightly faster (though it’s not clear the diet would always help people lose weight faster).

More significantly, those from the intermittent fasting group cleared fat from their system more quickly after a meal and experienced a 9% drop in systolic blood pressure (the "regular diet" group had a slight increase in blood pressure).

This was a small study and researchers say participants had a hard time following the diet, but these are promising results.

Other studies indicate intermittent fasting could reduce risk for forms of cancer, but more research is needed.

Other small studies on a similar 5:2 diet and on other intermittent fasting diets have shown that this form of intermittent fasting is associated with physical changes that could lead to reduced cancer risk, particularly for breast cancer.

Much more research on this area is needed, but these are promising results, Mark Mattson, a neuroscientist at the National Institute on Aging at the National Institutes of Health, previously told Business Insider.

There may be evolutionary reasons why depriving ourselves of food for some time makes us feel energetic and focused.

"Hungry," from an evolutionary perspective, isn’t lifeless or drained. It’s when our bodies and brains need to function at maximum capacity.

"It makes sense that the brain needs to be functioning very well when an individual is in a fasted state because it’s in that state that they have to figure out how to find food," Mattson previously told Business Insider. "They also have to be able to expend a lot of energy. Individuals whose brains were not functioning well while fasting would not be able to compete and thrive."

 

See the rest of the story at Business Insider

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Government agencies react to Uber’s fatal self-driving car accident

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Earlier today, news broke of a fatal crash involving one of Uber’s self-driving cars in Tempe, Arizona. In response, Uber halted its self-driving car programs where it currently operates, including in Pittsburgh, Toronto, San Francisco and Phoenix. The U.S. Department of Transportation National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, Tempe Mayor Mark Mitchell and others have since released statements about the crash.

In a statement to TechCrunch, the NHTSA said it has sent over its “Special Crash Investigation” team to Temple. This is “consistent with NHTSA’s vigilant oversight and authority over the safety of all motor vehicles and equipment, including automated technologies,” a spokesperson for the agency told TechCrunch.

“NHTSA is also in contact with Uber, Volvo, Federal, State and local authorities regarding the incident,” the spokesperson said. “The agency will review the information and proceed as warranted.”

Over in Tempe, Mitchell called the accident “tragic,” saying the city grieves for Elaine Herzberg, the woman who lost her life.

“The City of Tempe has been supportive of autonomous vehicle testing because of the innovation and promise the technology may offer in many areas, including transportation options for disabled residents and seniors,” Mayor Mitchell said in a statement. “All indications we have had in the past show that traffic laws are being obeyed by the companies testing here.”

Moving forward, the city of Tempe and its police department will look into the accident to try to figure out what happened, Mitchell said. In the meantime, Mitchell said he supports the step Uber has taken to temporarily suspend its self-driving tests.

Over in California, where Uber has also suspended its self-driving car tests, the DMV says it “takes the safe operation of our autonomous vehicle permit holders very seriously,” a DMV spokesperson said in a statement to TechCrunch.

“The California DMV has many requirements in place for testing permit holders and requires collision reports and annual disengagement reports,” the spokesperson said. “We are aware of the Uber crash in Arizona, but we have not been briefed on the details of the crash at this time. We plan to follow up with Uber to get more information.”

Assemblymember Jim Frazier (D-Discovery Bay), who is also chairman of the Assembly Transportation Committee, also chimed in, saying his “heart goes out to the family of the victim.”

He added,

Unlike Arizona, California has taken a safety driven approach when developing autonomous vehicle regulations. Autonomous vehicles have the potential to save thousands of lives a year, but they have to be tested properly to protect the public. My Committee plans on having a hearing in May that will focus on the safety of these vehicles.

Earlier today, the National Safety Transportation Board announced it would conduct its own field investigation. That came after Uber’s statement, in which the company expressed its condolences and said the company is working with local authorities in their investigation.

I’ll update this story as I learn more.

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A controversial cryptocurrency is exploding as traders look for safety away from bitcoin’s wild swings

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  • Tether’s USDT, a controversial cryptocurrency, is becoming more and more popular among traders, research from Morgan Stanley finds.  
  • Bitcoin trades paired against USDT now make up 14% of bitcoin trading volumes. 
  • Tether skeptics have questioned whether the company actually has the US dollars in reserve that it says backs its crypto. 

A controversial cryptocurrency is becoming more and more popular among traders.

Trading between Tether’s USDT, a stable-coin that aims to trade at $1, is on the rise, according to new research by Morgan Stanley, the US investment bank.

Typically, bitcoin trades are paired against the most traded fiat currencies, such as the US dollar, Japanese yen, and the euro. Of course, a person can also trade between bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies.

Since the beginning of 2018, however, trades between USDT and bitcoin have become more common, Morgan Stanley found.

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"During the most recent bear market, USDT has been taking a larger share of trading volumes," the bank said. 

The bank, which compiled data from over 350 exchanges, estimates 14.2% of bitcoin trades are paired against USDT, up from less than 1% in October. 

USDT is meant to function as a stable-coin, a cryptocurrency that allows you to avoid the volatility of bitcoin but still have the operability of a crypto.

That’s one reason why the coin’s usage might be on the uptick. Bitcoin has shed as much of 70% off its all-time high near $20,000 set in December since the beginning of 2018. 

"Tether trading increases with bitcoin volatility," Stephen Kade of TrueUSD, a Tether competitor, told Business Insider. 

Still, the cryptocurrency is controversial, and Tether has been subpoenaed by the Commodities Futures Trading Commission. Skeptics have questioned whether Tether actually has the dollars it says back its crypto.

"[They] still haven’t proven that they hold the funds backing their tokens," Kade said. 

Still, two cryptocurrency exchanges, Binance and OKEx, added the cryptocurrency to their venues at the end of 2018.

"Both of these exchanges do not accept fiat currencies, so when falling bitcoin prices also led to falling prices in most other cryptocurrencies, traders likely turned to tether due to its price being equivalent and stable to the US dollar," Morgan Stanley said. 

Traditionally, a long-bitcoin trader would swap some bitcoin for another crypto during a price free-fall. But lately things have been more correlated. As such, exchanging bitcoin for ether doesn’t really help reduce risk. 

"In a trading environment like today, I can see USDT playing a bigger role," one industry insider said. "For users and potentially for market-makers alike."

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NOW WATCH: Here’s what Jim Chanos is tired of hearing about from Wall Street and Silicon Valley

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