How did Vote Leave cheat?

Details of how Vote Leave cheated were laid out in full today as the nation comes to grips with the news that one of the campaign’s leading donors is to be investigated by the National Crime Agency.

Funding from Arron Banks will now be investigated as part of a possible criminal conspiracy that links donations to impermissible sources.

It comes after Vote Leave was fined and reported to police by the Electoral Commission for overspending on their campaign to the tune of £675,000. The money was spent with the digital data company Aggregate IQ, which should have been declared by the Brexit campaign group.

But how did the additional money help win the referendum?

Well, details of that were revealed by Facebook earlier this year when they released a string of pro-Brexit adverts that popped up on voters’ feeds before the EU referendum in June 2016.

According to detailed analysis the money was spent at the end of the campaign when Vote Leave registered the biggest gains in the polls, and involved Facebook advertising that used clever ploys to mine voter’s data and prey on their fears and vulnerabilities.

Here’s how they did it:

  • Firstly they engineered a work-around to Facebook’s privacy rules by luring people in with competitions or apps that would require people to divulge their data:

  • Cambridge Analytica would then build detailed profiles of people to find those who were undecided about which way to vote in the referendum. If you showed strong feelings one way or the other, you will likely have never seen the ads.
  • Pensioners who love UK traditions but don’t really care or know about the EU would be targeted with ads such as this:

  • Others used simple scaremongering tactics, such as this:

  • A full range of ads can be found seen on this thread, and demonstrate how if you bombard people who haven’t quite made up their mind, it’s not hard to make them make a decision.

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