©Mari Bastashevski, 2019

ADVERGENCE

2018-2019

 

Abstract

In the wake of the Cambridge Analytica revelations, I set up a cat-fishing experiment: a mock-up of a company (www.advergence.org) This company offered strategic algorithmic solutions for skewing the outcome of presidential elections in the global south (in particular Nigeria).

 

I then advertised executive positions on recruitment websites, inviting top tier applicants from London, Berlin, and Washington to effectively manage and overturn democratic elections in Nigeria. I've cultivated contacts among Nigerian government representatives at the same time. 
 

I was rather surprised to meet no resistance to the idea on either side. There were no inquiries about the ominously blank public profile of a company, nor did anyone inquire whether the seven men that run the company even exist. The volume and the wording of the applications I received would suggest that the media coverage of the 2016 US election interference, and Brexit, had no effect on the applicants decisions (many are certainly Guardian readers). 

Among the prospective candidates were established left environmentalists, academics, and TED speakers, as well as the usual cast of managerial consultants one would expect to respond to such ads. Their vague proposals presented by these prospective candidates were in turn enthusiastically embraced by the prospective clients, even as these offered no promise of a vote. I discontinued the experiment as the negotiations became more concrete.