An investigation into the Leave campaign’s Facebook marketing campaign has revealed it was a “political phishing scam” that used sensitive issues with no connection to Brexit in order to win votes.
Analysis of Facebook ads provided to the parliamentary investigation found ads about polar bears, the collapse of the UK steel industry and flood defences linked to the EU referendum vote – many offering the disproved sum of £350 million to solve UK problems.
One used Storm Desmond which devastated many northern parts of the UK as a means to get voters on side. It read:
“£350 million a week to the EU, or, flood defences for Yorkshire”.
Similar tactics pried on those with a connection to towns that had seen the steel industry get diminished. They read:
“£350 million a week to the EU, or, support UK steel industry”.
The ads prompted Facebook users to answer a question about whether they cared about a certain topic, such as schools, industry, whales or even polar bears.
If a user clicked through it would then use the magic £350 million figure to show how their concerns will be alleviated if Britain decided to vote Leave.
See the full thread posted by Alex Andreou below:
This is simply astonishing. Facebook ads provided to the parliamentary investigation with absolutely NO connection to Brexit, and no markings identifying them as political in any way, used to harvest data for Vote Leave and shape the precise lie then offered to each user. THREAD https://t.co/Pk6pobDiS8
— Alex Andreou (@sturdyAlex) July 26, 2018