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Cambridge Analytica files outline tactics to influence foreign elections

SCL Group documents revealed the company speaking of its ‘international experience’ in political research, citing work on multiple foreign elections.

Cambridge Analytica’s parent company boasted that it had influenced voters across the world – including one claim that “anti-election rallies” had been held to discourage people from turning out at the ballot box in Nigeria.

SCL Group documents submitted by whistleblower Christopher Wylie and released by the Digital, Culture, Media and Sport committee on Thursday revealed the company speaking of its “international experience” in political research, citing work on multiple foreign elections.

The political consultancy used its analysis of Nigerian voters to “advise that rather than trying to motivate swing voters to vote for our clients, a more effective strategy might be to persuade opposition voters not to vote at all – an action that could be easily monitored”.

“This was achieved by organising anti-election rallies on the day of polling in opposition strongholds,” the text said.

SCL said that it had identified ahead of Latvian elections that “unspoken ethnic tensions between the indigenous Latvians and the Russian immigrant population” were “at the heart of the election”.

“The locals secretly blamed the Russians for stealing their jobs, for the crime and for the other social problems vocally attributed to the economy,” the document said.

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A page from the SCL Group documents, submitted by Cambridge Analytica whistleblower Christopher Wylie.

“Armed with this knowledge, SCL was able to reflect these real issues in its client’s messaging,” it said.

In another example, SCL said that “covertly organised” rallies at universities in Indonesia were used as a method to help prevent civil war in the late 1990s.

“Initially the government was nervous of large rallies, fearing that the strategy might encourage widespread disobedience. But the rallies were peacefully conducted and the students became confident that their message was being heard,” the case study said.

“Almost immediately the civil unrest that had been escalating dissipated and no serious civil disobedience was reported throughout the election process which saw the induction of the Muslim cleric, Abdurrahman Wahid to the presidency.”

The document also features claims about its work on elections in Kenya, Colombia, Italy, Romania, Trinidad and Tobago and St Kitts and Nevis, as well as a series of polls in India.

On its website, SCL Group says it has “conducted behavioural change programmes in over 60 countries” over the course of more than 25 years.

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