Channel 4: Trump campaign had data on 200 million voters, targeted Black voters in 2016

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An investigation by Channel 4 News uncovers that the Trump Campaign, in collaboration with the Republican National Committee and Steve Bannon’s Cambridge Analytica, obtained digital data on almost 200 million Americans in 2016.

3.5 million of those were Black Americans labeled “Deterrence.” The campaign targeted them with ads focused on smearing Hillary Clinton, in hopes that they could be swayed to stay home than vote for her over Trump.

In 16 key battleground states, millions of Americans were separated by an algorithm into one of eight categories, also described as ‘audiences’, so they could then be targeted with tailored ads on Facebook and other platforms.

One of the categories was named ‘Deterrence’, which was later described publicly by Trump’s chief data scientist as containing people that the campaign “hope don’t show up to vote”…

In Georgia, despite Black people constituting 32% of the population, they made up 61% of the ‘Deterrence’ category. In North Carolina, Black people are 22% of the population but were 46% of ‘Deterrence’. In Wisconsin, Black people constitute just 5.4% of the population but made up 17% of ‘Deterrence’.

The disproportionate categorising of Black Americans for ‘Deterrence’ is seen across the US. Overall, people of colour labelled as Black, Hispanic, Asian and ‘Other’ groups made up 54% of the ‘Deterrence’ category…

Channel 4 News

Brad Parscale, head of the Trump 2016 digital campaign and Trump’s 2020 campaign manager, denies that ads were ever targeted specifically at people of color.

The 2016 election marked the first time in 20 years that Black voter turnout declined in an election.

The data was also used to target white voters with fear-based ads, usually focused on wedge issues like “law and order.” Channel 4 News uses information from their investigation to compare how the Trump campaign used this data in 2016 and how the campaign uses it now in 2020.

This post is dated based on the release of the Channel 4 investigation, not on any specific events in the Trump 2016 campaign.

External Sources

Channel 4 (Archived)

Channel 4: White Voters, Video

Photo: Michael Vadon (Cropped & Color Edited)

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