UK firm at center of Facebook data leak helped Duterte win 2016 election — report

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By Corina Oliquino | FilAm Star Correspondent

MANILA — According to a report by Strategic Communications Laboratories (SCL Group, its parent company Cambridge Analytica, a London-based behavioral research and strategic communication company, helped ease Rodrigo Duterte into presidency in the May 2016 national elections.

SCL Group says the London firm has helped portray Duterte as a “strong, no-nonsense man of action on social media,” a report from the South China Morning Post said.

“Cambridge Analytica, a political consulting firm, is at the center of the Facebook data scandal linked to the 2016 U.S. presidential elections.

According to reports, several Cambridge Analytica employees have been hired for the campaign of Trump as analysts,” a report by The Philippine Star reads.

In the same report by The Philippine Star, using a Facebook quiz, Cambridge Analytica has “improperly harvested” information of millions of users with Facebook revealing recently that the London firm may have the data of up to 87 million of its users, 37 million more than previously thought.

Meanwhile, the SCL Group reportedly helped in “re-branding” Duterte for his presidential campaign, the South China Morning Post stressed.

According to the SCL Group’s website, Duterte’s campaign team originally branded the former Davao City mayor as “both kind and honorable.”

SCL Group has removed the content but the South China Morning Post posted an archived version of the report.

“But SCL’s research showed that many groups within the electorate were more likely to be swayed by qualities such as toughness and decisiveness,” the web content reads according to The Philippine Star.

“SCL used the cross-cutting issue of crime to re-brand the client as a strong, no-nonsense man of action, who would appeal to the true values of the voters,” the report added.

According to the report by The Philippine Star, the web content, however, did not identify Duterte as its Philippine client, but its web post pointed to the former Davao City mayor.

Late in 2017, Facebook was criticized for sending out teams to train politicians around the world, including Duterte, on how to use the social media platform as an election or campaign tool.

Late last year, Facebook faced criticism for sending out teams to train politicians around the world, including Duterte, on how to use the platform as a campaign tool.

A report by MSNBC in January 2016 noted that Facebook “flew in three employees who spent a week holding training session with candidates that included Duterte.”

According to The Philippine Star, it occurred two months after Duterte announced his presidential bid despite previous repeated denials.

For its response, Malacañang downplayed the reports linking Facebook to Duterte’s presidential campaign. Presidential spokesperson Harry Roque argued all candidates utilized Facebook as their campaign tool.

“All candidates did so, unfortunately for his detractors, President Duterte appeared to have been the best candidate who utilized Facebook the most,” Roque told The Philippine Star.

Facebook data of Filipinos improperly shared
In another report by Rappler, six months before the 2016 U.S. presidential elections, Cambridge Analytic, also had a hand in the Philippine presidential campaign with the company confirming Facebook data on Filipino users were improperly shared with the firm.

In a post by Facebook’s Chief Technology Officer Mike Schroepfer last April 4, he confirmed that 1,175,870 Filipino users may have had their Facebook information and details improperly shared with London firm Cambridge Analytica, making the Philippines second only to the U.S. in terms of the number of people whose data were compromised.

According to Rappler’s report, the company used data collected on-line from Facebook to segment their voters by their personalities and behavior.

“The information was then used to target Facebook users on content specifically tailored for them,” the Rappler report reads.

“If you know the personality of the people you’re targeting, you can nuance your messaging to resonate more effectively with those key groups,” Cambridge Analytica CEO Alexander Nix said in a 2016 speech.

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