An undercover investigation has blown the lid off the workings of Cambridge Analytica, the British data company that was suspected and now boasts of influencing Kenya's 2017 presidential election.
In a three-part series titled 'Data, Democracy and Dirty Tricks', Britain's Channel 4 exposes how the right-leaning digital marketing firm targets voters with propaganda to influence their voting decisions.
In the investigation, the company's bosses, including chief executive Alexander Nix, are secretly filmed saying they discreetly campaign in elections across the world through a web of shadowy front companies or by using sub-contractors.
The executives boast that Cambridge Analytica and its parent company, Strategic Communications Laboratories (SCL), have worked in more than 200 elections across the world, including Nigeria, Kenya, the Czech Republic, India and Argentina.
BRIBES AND SEX WORKERS
Cambridge Analytica executives say they could entrap politicians in compromising situations with bribes and Ukrainian sex workers.
In one exchange with the undercover journalists Nix says they "send some girls around to the candidate's house" to dig up information on political opponents of their clients.
The company also offers to bribe politicians on camera and use such recordings against them.
"We'll offer a large amount of money to the candidate, to finance his campaign in exchange for land for instance, we'll have the whole thing recorded, we'll blank out the face of our guy and we post it on the Internet," Nix is quoted by Channel 4 as saying.
Such damaging information is discreetly pushed into the internet and social, according to Mark Turnbull, the managing director of Cambridge Analytica's Political Global.
He tells Channel 4: "we just put information into the bloodstream of the internet, and then, and then watch it grow, give it a little push every now and again... like a remote control. It has to happen without anyone thinking, 'that's propaganda', because the moment you think 'that's propaganda', the next question is, 'who's put that out?'".
And since most politicians fear being seen working with foreign companies in their campaigns, Cambridge Analystica says it uses people you could least suspect.
Nix says, "... we set up, if we are working then we can set up fake IDs and websites, we can be students doing research projects attached to a university, we can be tourists, there's so many options we can look at. I have lots of experience in this."