Data mining company Cambridge Analytica has suspended its chief executive Alexander Nix after he was caught bragging about manipulating elections in a tape.
In a hidden camera footage set by UK’s Channel 4 News, the firm’s executives were seen pitching tactics to entrap political opponents and boasting about running election campaigns across the world, including in Kenya in 2013 and 2017.
To a reporter who posed as a fixer for candidates in Sri Lanka, the executives talked about the way the company operated, including offering bribes, spreading false information about the opponents, and sending “some girls around to the candidate’s house”.
Mark Turnbull, managing director of Cambridge Analytica’s political division, also spoke about the firm’s role in Uhuru Kenyatta’s campaign in the last two of Kenya’s elections, including providing research, rebranding the party and writing manifesto and speeches.
“We’d stage the whole thing,” Turnbull said in the video.
Cambridge Analytica continues to receive heavy scrutiny, following the revelation by whistleblower Chris Wylie this week that the firm tapped personal information from more than 50 million Facebook accounts without permission for Donald Trump’s presidential campaign.
The firm, which is partly owned by conservative hedge-fund billionaire Robert Mercer, said Channel 4’s report “edited and scripted to grossly misrepresent the nature of those conversations and how the company conducts its business.”
However, the company’s board said Nix will still be suspended effective immediately pending a full independent investigation.
“In the view of the board, Mr Nix’s recent comments secretly recorded by Channel 4 and other allegations do not represent the values or operations of the firm and his suspension reflects the seriousness with which we view this violation,” the statement read.
“We have asked Julian Malins QC to lead this investigation, the findings of which the Board will share publicly in due course.”
Nix’s suspension came as a British parliamentary summoned Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg to testify about how the social media giant allowed the company to access user data. More US politicians also call for Zuckerberg to testify before the congress.