Marcos camp denies ties with Cambridge Analytica to 'rebrand' family image, eyes libel charges

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, July 16) — The son of late strongman Ferdinand Marcos denied seeking the services of political data-analysis firm Cambridge Analytica to rebrand the family's image, his spokesperson said on Thursday.

The spokesman of former Senator and ex-vice presidential candidate Ferdinand "Bongbong" Marcos Jr. slammed Rappler's interview with former Cambridge Analytica director-turned-whistleblower Brittany Kaiser.

"(The news story is) patently fake, false, and misleading," Vic Rodriguez said in a statement.

In an interview with Rappler CEO Maria Ressa on Wednesday, Kaiser talked about the ties of the embattled British firm with then-candidates of the 2016 national elections in the Philippines — specifically mentioning the name of Bongbong Marcos, who lost to Vice President Leni Robredo by just 263,473 votes.

"So we had a request straight from Bongbong Marcos to do a family rebranding... As you call it, historical revisionism, that's exactly what it is. But it's done in a data-driven and scientific way," Kaiser was quoted as saying.

Kaiser, who worked for the controversial data company which conducts online "behavioral microtargeting" since 2014, said there was a debate in the firm about taking on the job offer from the Marcoses. She said some staff did not want to delve into it, but former CEO Alexander Nix saw it as a "massive financial opportunity" and asked the employees to write a proposal.

"An instance where the history of a family and an individual is important for the public to know, then this type of work is extremely dangerous," she added.

She did not mention if the deal between Cambridge Analytica and Marcos materialized.

With the allegations published in the interview and Rappler's site, Rodriguez said it is looking into filing charges against the embattled news outfit.

"BBM is consulting with his legal team and will be exploring the legal options to fight this injustice. The filing of libel charges is on the table," he said.

The Marcos family has been facing accusations of historical revisionism. Bongbong previously called for a revision of educational textbooks that depict "political propaganda" against his father's over 20-years regime.

The family has been hounded by human rights violations surrounding former President Marcos' rule. The government released funds until December 2019 from the recovered Marcos ill-gotten wealth to human rights victims during Martial Law. Aside from this, the family is accused of plundering billions of dollars from government coffers, including through dummy foundations in Swiss bank accounts.

Cambridge Analytica was hired by Donald Trump's campaign during the 2016 US election, but denied it misused Facebook data from over 50 million profiles for the campaign.

The campaign team of then-presidential candidate Rodrigo Duterte was photographed with Nix more than a year before the national elections. But Kaiser said she has "no full confirmation" if the camp of President Rodrigo Duterte availed of their services.

RELATED: Duterte denies campaign deals with Cambridge Analytica

The company closed operations in 2018 in the course of the Facebook data scandal.