If there have been two outrageous episodes of the fake news being spread by robots through social networks managed by communication consultancies, they are the Cambridge Analytica and Birnbaum & Finkelstein incidents. Of the first one, almost everything is known. That Facebook “sold” to Cambridge Analytica – for academic purposes -, detailed information of 50 million of its users without their permission and violating their own terms and policies of use, is now public knowledge.
“Through an application designed to as a questionnaire about the personality and political interests of its respondents and their friends, we built models to exploit what we knew about them and target their hibernating demons,” recalls Christopher Wylie, the former Cambridge employee who unveiled the scandal.
Donald Trump contracted in 2016 more than 6.2 million dollars worth of these services of this consultancy, aiming to spreading millions of personalized messages with false information about his opponents (Obama, Hillary Clinton …) among an audience willing and receptive to such messaging. Cambridge knew their predisposition to receive personalized stimuli based on their emotional state and political leaning. Nobody doubts that this campaign was decisive for the election of Donald Trump as president of the United States. But little is known about the demonization of the financier Georges Soros orchestrated around the world by the tandem Birnbaum & Finkelstein, commissioned by the Hungarian prime minister, Viktor Orban.
According to Hannes Grassegger in Buzzfeednews, the team of the famous investor and philanthropist of Hungarian origin was caught by surprise by a flood of fake news, all negative, referring to him and his professional activities. A perverse character, drug dealer, extremist, Nazi conspirator, Jew, who helped the collapse of the Soviet Union to fill Europe with Islamist refugees. A wave of insults for supporting the Democratic Party of the United States and criticizing the Brexit of the United Kingdom. You just have to look on social media to see for yourself the avalanche of insults thrown at him in various languages languages, including Spanish.
George Eli Birnbaum and Arthur Finkelstein, Jews like Soros himself, worked secretly since 2008 for Viktor Orban’s campaign. Their electoral victory showed them the success of their strategy.
Finkelstein, now deceased, had developed a method that became a practical guide for modern populism. Its premise is based on the fact that each election is decided before it starts. “The majority of voters know who they will vote for, what they support and what they oppose. It is very difficult to convince them otherwise. It’s much easier to demoralize people than to motivate them. And the best way to win is to demoralize your opponent’s supporters. ” That is what Trump did to great effect against Hillary Clinton, and what he really meant when, after the election, he thanked American blacks for not going out to vote.
We don’t have to go very far to confirm that the method has expanded. Voters are motivated by simple questions and consultants polarize with fear about these simple issues. “And whoever doesn’t attack first, will be the victim, the defeated,” to the point that exaggerations or flat-out lies about the opponent is fair game to destroy your opponent. His advice to client candidates would be to not talk about themselves, but focus their campaign on destroying their opponents. Flood the discourse through social networks and other platforms with streams of false or suspicious news of the opponent to defeat and destroy.
Always identify an enemy; if it isn’t Soros for embodying liberalism or dangerous foreign capital, it will be the fear of the Islamization of Europe by refugees, of immigrants stealing jobs, of the gender violence law that crushes men, of agreements with the separatists that are tearing Spain apart …
Inmaculada G. Mardones
Editor of Geotermia Online. Formerly Section Leader at EL PAÍS and Communications Director of the Ministry of Development