Speaking at a fashion industry conference being held in Britain, Cambridge Analytica whistle-blower Christopher Wylie revealed that Steve Bannon, the former adviser to President Donald Trump, used fashion profiling to find budding alt-right conservatives to get behind Trump’s presidential campaign.
According to the New York Times, Wylie described how the controversial data firm used AI to locate internet users who showed interest in “American brands, which play on the myths of the West and the (mostly male).”
“Fashion data was used to build AI models to help Steve Bannon build his insurgency and build the alt-right,” Wylie told the audience, before elaborating, “Fashion brands are really useful in producing algorithms to find out how people think and how they feel.”
According to the data analyst, fans of the brands Wrangler and L.L. Bean were singled out by Cambridge Analytica as indicators of conservative viewpoints — and thus chased after.
The report states that Cambridge University Psychometrics Center at Cambridge University deputy director David Stillwell, had a hand in developing Cambridge Analytica’s methodology.
According to Stillwell, “Different people choose different clothes and it correlates with their politics.”
Stillwell’s assessment confirmed arguments made by “Why Customers Do What They Do” author Marshal Cohen in 2016..
“It’s all about learning who your supporter base is,” Cohen said at the time. “How do they live? What are their trigger points? What words resonate with them? It’s worth its weight in gold, in the political arena just like the consumer arena. We call it demographic profiling, because voter profiling sounds like a dirty word, but that’s what it is.”
According to the report, after revealing one the tools Bannon used on social media for recruitment purposes, whistle-blower Wylie took a shot at embattled Facebook.
“Mr. Wylie used his talk at the Business of Fashion conference to protest Facebook’s enormous power, and said that the company was damaging society by separating people based on their cultural preferences. He exhorted those present to be conscious of the narratives embedded in their branding,” the Times reported.
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