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CEO of Cambridge Analytica Alexander Nix speaks at the 2016 Concordia Summit. Photo by Bryan Bedder/Getty Images for Concordia Summit

A 4-month undercover investigation conducted by the UK's Channel 4 News revealed that Cambridge Analytica says it has secretly campaigned in more than 200 elections around the world, using shady tactics that include bribery and prostitution in order to entrap politicians in compromising situations. The company says they "entirely refute" the allegations.

Why it matters: Cambridge Analytica worked for Donald Trump's campaign during the 2016 presidential elections, and is at the center of a controversy for its role in harvesting data from more than 50 million Facebook profiles. Facebook announced Monday that it has hired a digital forensics firm to conduct a comprehensive audit of the company.

A Channel 4 reporter, posing as a fixer for a client working on elections in Sri Lanka, secretly filmed Cambridge Analytica's chief executive Alexander Nix as he described some of the tactics the firm employs:

  • “We’ll offer a large amount of money to the candidate, to finance his campaign in exchange for land for instance, we’ll have the whole thing recorded, we’ll blank out the face of our guy and we post it on the Internet.”
  • Nix also said they could “send some girls around to the candidate’s house,” adding that Ukrainian girls “are very beautiful, I find that works very well.”
  • “…Many of our clients don’t want to be seen to be working with a foreign company… so often we set up, if we are working then we can set up fake IDs and websites, we can be students doing research projects attached to a university, we can be tourists, there’s so many options we can look at. I have lots of experience in this.”
  • Another CA executive, Mark Turnbull, discussed how the firm pushes damaging material onto social media: “… 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. 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?’”

Statement from Cambridge Analytica to Channel 4:

“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… We routinely undertake conversations with prospective clients to try to tease out any unethical or illegal intentions…”
A tweet previously embedded here has been deleted or was tweeted from an account that has been suspended or deleted.

What's next: Part three of Channel 4's documentary on Cambridge Analytica will air tomorrow at 3pm ET, and will reportedly focus on the firm's work in the U.S.

Go deeper

Neera Tanden withdraws nomination for Office of Management and Budget director

Neera Tanden testifying before the Senate Budget Committee in Washington, D.C., in February 2021. Photo: Anna Moneymaker/The New York Times/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Neera Tanden withdrew her name from nomination to lead the Office of Management and Budget, President Biden announced Tuesday.

Why it matters: Tanden’s nomination was already in peril after several senators voiced opposition and concern about her qualifications and past combative tweets.

What's ahead for the newest female CEOs

Jane Fraser (L) and Rosalind Brewer. Photos: Jason Redmond/AFP via Getty Images; Rodrigo Capote/Bloomberg via Getty Images.

The number of women at the helm of America’s biggest companies pales in comparison to men, but is newly growing — and their tasks are huge.

What's going on: Jane Fraser took over at Citigroup this week, the first woman to ever lead a major U.S. bank. Rosalind Brewer will take the reins at Walgreens in the coming weeks (March 15) — a company that's been run by white men for more than a century.

2 hours ago - Health

Biden says U.S. will have enough vaccines for 300 million adults by end of May

President Biden. Photo: Anna Moneymaker-Pool/Getty Images

President Biden on Tuesday said that ramped-up coronavirus vaccine production will provide enough doses for 300 million Americans by the end May.

Why it matters: That's two months sooner than Biden's previous promise of enough vaccines for all American adults by the end of July.