Religious Data Platform Targets The Poor, Vulnerable For Far-Right Politics
According to German news outlet Deutsche Welle, “A new film reveals how Cambridge Analytica, collaborating with a software company, has created a platform for US churches that targets the poor, the addicted and the disabled — to radicalize them for far-right politics.”
- The documentary called ‘People You May Know’ is from filmmaker Katharina Gellein and Charles Kriel, special adviser to the UK Parliament on disinformation, and was set to release on September 28.
- Their work uncovered far-right-wing churches in the U.S. that have “built a platform that targets mentally ill or vulnerable people in order to draw them into church, to monetize them through donations.”
- Their investigation found that a Koch brothers-funded charity commissioned Cambridge Analytica and a software company called Gloo to build a platform that churches could use to target vulnerable populations.
- Kreil said “these are people who are suffering from addiction, financial distress, who might be struggling with opioid dependence or they might be dealing with bipolar issues.”
- Kreil added: “And all of these options are available in the software that has been deployed to the churches.”
- Kreil also noted: “Once those people are identified, they can target them with social media. And once brought into the church, they can also be recruited into the politics of the far right.”
- Gellein said one of the main founders explained: “He had an initial presentation for donors, which we've seen. And that lays out pretty clearly that the aim is political because overwhelmingly, people who don't go to church don't vote Republican.”
- Kreil and Gellein believe the platform was employed ahead of the 2016 election.
- Gellein said: “We found that the guy who commissioned Cambridge Analytica and also put money into Gloo, the software company, is a member of an organization called the Council for National Policy.”
- Gellein added: “They've existed for about 40 years. Their aim was to rewrite the US Constitution by 2020 … but if Trump wins another four years, they have a very real chance, because they have…worked to install a Republican legislature in many states.”
The pair said while their film might be viewed as “liberal”, it’s really “about the exploitation of people who attend church. So any normal Republican, I think, wouldn't be very happy with their data being used for purposes that it wasn't intended for.”