An American hedge-fund mogul who contributed to Donald Trump’s presidential campaign played a crucial role in the campaign for Britain to leave the European Union, according to a report.
Billionaire Robert Mercer, an owner of the right-wing Breitbart News Network as well as data-analytics companies, is a close friend of Nigel Farage, the former UKIP leader and leading Brexit campaigner.
In the lead-up to the June 23 referendum on the EU membership, Mercer directed his data analytics firm, Cambridge Analytica, to provide expert advice to Farage associates on how to target undecided voters on Facebook, The Observer has learned.
The services were kept from the electoral commission.
Cambridge Analytica, which has 25 years of experience in military disinformation campaigns, claims to use state-of-the-art technology to build psychometric profiles of voters in an attempt to target their “emotional triggers” in elections.
“They were happy to help. Because Nigel is a good friend of the Mercers. And Mercer introduced them to us,” Andy Wigmore, communications director of Leave.eu, told The Observer.
“What they were trying to do in the US and what we were trying to do had massive parallels. We shared a lot of information,” he added.
The Trump campaign also reportedly paid millions of dollars to the company to persuade swing voters to cast their ballot for the real estate tycoon.
The strategy involved harvesting personal data from people’s social media profiles and using the information, combined with artificial intelligence, to decide who to target with individualized ads.
Farage dined with the US president and his advisers in Trump International Hotel in Washington this week, praising them as being part of a "global revolution" that began with Brexit.