President Donald Trump’s 2016 campaign worked with Cambridge Analytica to target millions of Black Americans in a massive voter-suppression effort, according to data leaked from the campaign.
Trump’s 2016 campaign used a “vast cache of data” on almost 200 million American voters, with 3.5 million Black Americans categorized as “deterrence,” or voters that they didn’t want to cast ballots, according to an exclusive Channel 4 News report.
Black Americans were disproportionately marked as “deterrence” by Trump’s 2016 campaign, and were targeted with tailored ads on Facebook and other channels, Channel 4 News reported.
Brad Parscale, the 2016 campaign’s digital director and former 2020 campaign manager, said in a 2018 interview with PBS Frontline that Trump’s successful presidential run didn’t target Black Americans.
“I would say I’m nearly 100 percent sure we did not run any campaigns that targeted even African-Americans,” he said.
However, the purported data leak casts doubt on those claims.
The 2016 campaign used negative ads targeting Black Americans to reduce the turnout of Hillary Clinton’s supporters, including videos where she referred to Black youths as “super predators,” according to Channel 4 News.
Facebook, which began implementing measures to prevent election interference and voter misinformation for the upcoming 2020 election, has no public record of the ads, as many of them disappeared from the platform after Trump’s campaign stopped paying for them.
“This is fake news,” the Trump campaign’s communications director Tim Murtaugh said in a statement to Digital Trends.
“President Trump has built a relationship of trust with African American voters because of the First Step Act‘s criminal justice reform, creating Opportunity Zones and his recently announced Platinum Plan to invest $500B in the Black community. Democrats deterred voters in 2016 by nominating Hillary Clinton, who called Black men ‘Super Predators,’ and they did it again this year by nominating Joe Biden, who has advocated for racist policies such as the 1994 Crime Bill and even spoke at the funeral of a Klan member.”
Digital Trends has also reached out to Facebook and the House Intelligence Committee for comments on the matter, and we will update this article as soon as we hear back.
Cambridge Analytica shut down in 2018 after losing most of its customers and suppliers due to allegations that the consulting firm collected data from millions of Facebook users without their consent for the purpose of political advertising. Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg has since pledged to make reforms to the social network to prevent similar breaches, but it appeared that the company knew about the misuse of user data much earlier than originally thought.