The researcher whose work is at the center of the uproar over Cambridge Analytica's Facebook data analysis and political advertising has revealed that his method worked much like the one Netflix uses to recommend movies.

He claims it works about as well as more traditional voter-targeting methods based on demographics like race, age, and gender.

The promise of personality targeting

In the wake of the revelations that Trump campaign consultants Cambridge Analytica used data from 50 million Facebook users to target digital political advertising during the 2016 US presidential election, Facebook has lost billions in stock market value, governments on both sides of the Atlantic have opened investigations, and a nascent social movement is calling on users to DeleteFacebook.

But a key question has remained unanswered: Was Cambridge Analytica really able to effectively target campaign messages to citizens based on their personality characteristics—or even their “inner demons,” as a company whistleblower alleged?

It was their startup, Global Science Research, that collected profile information from 270,000 Facebook users and tens of millions of their friends using a personality test app called “thisisyourdigitallife.”

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