Days after revelations about how Cambridge Analytica misused Facebook data to manipulate users during the 2016 presidential election, leading to the suspension of the company’s CEO, a new report says the pro-Trump backers of Cambridge Analytica have quietly set up a new data company.
Emerdata was incorporated in the UK in August 2017, reports Business Insider. According to public records from Britain’s Companies House, Emerdata’s board of directors include Rebekah and Jennifer Mercer, daughters of the hedge-fund billionaire and primary Cambridge Analytica investor Robert Mercer. They were appointed to the board on March 15. Also listed as directors: Alexander Nix, the suspended Cambridge Analytica CEO; and the deputy director of the company chaired by Trump supporter Erik Prince, founder of Blackwater and brother-in-law of Education Secretary Betsy DeVos.
It’s not clear what Emerdata does, although the company is listed under “data processing, hosting and related activities.” It’s also unclear how Nix is involved with the company, considering his suspension.
The company was established by the chairman and chief data officer of Cambridge Analytica’s parent company, and is headquartered in the same building in London’s Canary Wharf, Business Insider says.
Cambridge Analytica, an online data-analysis firm, has come under fire after three bombshell reports in recent days. The Guardian and NBC News reported that the company had collected the personal information of 50 million Facebook users without their knowledge, then used it to spread pro-Trump, anti-Clinton propaganda during the 2016 presidential election.
A hidden-camera investigation by the UK’s Channel 4 showed Alexander Nix boasting about how Cambridge Analytica ran the data operation for the Trump campaign and was able to manipulate elections, using techniques including entrapment and bribery. He also suggested the Trump campaign may have coordinated with political SuperPACs, which is illegal.
In addition to primarily funding Cambridge Analytica, Robert Mercer funds the Make American #1 PAC, which paid Cambridge Analytica $1.5 million during 2015 and 2016.
Nix was suspended, but not fired, from the company on Tuesday.
Also on Tuesday, the Washington Post reported that future presidential adviser and Breitbart chairman Steve Bannon oversaw Cambridge Analytica’s data collection and had tested Trump slogans such as “drain the swamp” and “deep state” before Trump deployed them during the campaign.