For the last week, the news headlines have been full of a new “scandal” regarding data mining and targeted ad campaigning based on that data. The parties involved were the Social Media giant Facebook and a group called Cambridge Analytica, a firm that built profiles of about fifty million Facebook users and used them for target political advertising. The scandal has exploded – at least as far as the MSM describes it – and reportedly has driven Mark Zuckerberg “into hiding”, as well as triggered a modest, but substantial drop (8.1%) in share price of Facebook stock, and a great deal of fodder for MSM talk shows to continue along their mission of maligning the election of Donald Trump.
We need to make our claim early in this piece and then explain ourselves.
This is ostensibly in opposition to the election of Donald Trump to the Presidency of the United States, and also in opposition to Great Britain’s exit from the European Union.
Someone forgot to connect Cambridge Analytica to Russia, but this will probably take place this coming week if anyone out there in MSM land reads this piece.
What happened, exactly?
You know those quiz games that get passed around on Facebook from time to time, like “What famous person are you most like?” and other quizzes where you answer a set of questions and then you are likened to someone famous. Then, you are invited to share this quiz game with your friends, along with the results, and so it goes.
Initially, some 270,000 Facebook users were invited to take the quiz, referred to as “thisisyourdigitallife”, and they must have enjoyed it, for they passed it on to friends until some fifty million users had responded to the quiz. What was not known was that this personality data was harvested by Cambridge to create data points that could be used to create highly targeted and (hopefully) effective political advertisements.
Now, Facebook’s developer policies allow data to be gained in precisely the way that CA was doing. This was not a data breach in any way. Facebook does allow developers to create tools of any type to gather user data for research purposes. They even allow this data to be used to create psychological profiles. What appears to have been the crossing point was the way that CA carried the use of this data and its analysis farther still.
The co-founder of Cambridge Analytica, Christopher Wylie, was the person who identified the method of how to use the data gleaned.
I began looking at consumer and demographic data to see what united Lib Dem voters, because apart from bits of Wales and the Shetlands it’s weird, disparate regions. And what I found is there were no strong correlations. There was no signal in the data.
“And then I came across a paper about how personality traits could be a precursor to political behaviour, and it suddenly made sense. Liberalism is correlated with high openness and low conscientiousness, and when you think of Lib Dems they’re absent-minded professors and hippies. They’re the early adopters… they’re highly open to new ideas. And it just clicked all of a sudden.”
The theory further states that if you know and are able to talk to voters who are more responsive to your message, and if you know where they live, you can have significant impacts on an election; you can even prompt such people to vote and / or depress turnout for adversaries.
But, honestly, so what? This is nothing new. Probably every reader understands this strategy. The only difference is that social media became an interactive means of acquiring the data used to form the analysis. Fox News put it this way:
Facebook gathers the data we “willingly” provide, analyzes it and utilizes it for very profitable targeted advertising. A big part of the problem is that many people don’t realize that they have agreed to have their data used for commercial purposes.
By and large, social media has privacy policies that are either hard to read, hard to find or merely inconvenient for many people who never had concerns about the privacy of their data.
But that data can be used incredibly effectively by advertisers of political campaigns. Facebook “likes” have been analyzed to come up with models used for commercial or political advertising that can be targeted to your personality to manipulate your opinion.
It is smart, simple and very direct. And while it is a bit sneaky since the purpose of the game was probably not expressed as directly as “We are going to use your answers to form a data profile we will then use to tailor political advertisements,” it also did not compromise personal data of Facebook users such as passwords, credit card and phone numbers or any number of other points personal to Facebook profiles. It used personality data the users themselves gave. That is a different matter entirely.
So why did Facebook stock fall, why is Zuckerberg supposedly hiding and why the outrage?
This is the point of greater concern here. This is a massively successful propaganda and public manipulation campaign, and again,
this is ostensibly in opposition to the election of Donald Trump to the Presidency of the United States and also in opposition to Great Britain’s exit from the European Union.
A Google search on “Is Zuckerberg really hiding” taken March 25th at 12:16 UTC (13:16 daylight time in Great Britain) reveals ten big hits with these titles (we also provide the links for further reading)
- Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg: ‘Really Sorry’ | The Last Word | MSNBC …
- Where’s Zuck? Facebook CEO silent as data harvesting scandal …
- Mark Zuckerberg needs to stop hiding from Facebook’s crisis …
- Mark Zuckerberg Told to ‘Stop Hiding Behind his … – Time Magazine
- Facebook’s Zuck comes out of hiding, admits company ‘mademistakes’
- Mark Zuckerberg’s Facebook page is hiding a slightly embarrassing ..
- Mark Zuckerberg’s Facebook profile is hiding a BIG secret – Mirror Online
- Mark Zuckerberg Fails to Apologize – Gizmodo
- Mark Zuckerberg’s Facebook Profile Is Hiding Embarassing Secret
- It will be hard to remove Mark Zuckerberg as Facebook CEO …
This is just one piece of the bloodbath. The Tabloidy Talk Show Circuit is also full of this “scandal”, but sometimes someone blows it wide open. But look what happens when this happens. Watch carefully as token conservative Meghann McCain clearly and specifically points out how the Obama campaign used Facebook and other social media for exactly the same purpose and was praised by the major newsmedia for the brilliance of such media marketing to help Obama win his two terms of the Presidency:
This is a HUGE liberal konklave, folks. And even the skeptical Meghann McCain (Senator John McCain’s daughter), as the token conservative on this program is hardly as hard-line conservative on this issue as some of us might be.
But she still provides factual information only to have it shot down by a woman who has an opinion.
This says that opinions matter more than facts. And to listen to the opinionated woman (Sunny Hostin, I believe) go on to try to explain herself, she literally says a whole lot of nothing:
I think it’s different though, because, in MY opinion I think it’s different in the sense that if you’re talking about a political campaign, yes, trying to reach out to voters with your own messaging; what’s happening according to Cambridge Analytica, this scandal, is that people are using um, user’s profiles and feeding them misinformation about our country…
“… So when you’re feeding them misinformation, there’s a misinformation campaign, and when you have news organizations like FOX News, pushing this narrative of a Deep State, pushing the same narrative that Russian bots are pushing on social media, I think that’s very different than a political candidate pushing his own message…”
Hopefully, in listening to McCain’s response we see easily that her response is far more data driven and factual. Mrs. Hostin accomplishes some rather interesting time travel in her jumbled response, which is about as intellectually large as many liberal women ever get anymore, for the Russian bot piece (which is also nothing) came into view within the last few months of 2018, Fox and Rush Limbaugh began discussing the Deep State as such not long after the 2016 election, but Cambridge Analytica was working with data prior to the election of 2016 before either of these other two topics were even being discussed.
Back then the only topic the MSM kept beating was what a reprobate Trump and anyone who liked him was, except for Fox News, and not even that entire network was on board – just a few.
But the millions of American women who watch the View don’t know this, and the soft tyranny of liberalism with coffee mugs and pretty faces (and a token conservative to beat up on) brainwashes our people.
This whole non-story’s story is really a call to personal, fact-driven, critical thought.
Mr. Zuckerberg is feeling the burn, not from any legal or ethical sources, but from the libs who he “betrayed” by letting a group that the Trump campaign employed use his network to help gather campaign targeting data.
That is probably the only reason. The market drop will vanish within days or weeks. That is no problem. Facebook is here to stay and nothing bigger than some yelling and screaming will ensue over the next week or so and then the next in the parade of manufactured scandals against President Trump will be ready for rollout.
But the perceived gullibility of the American people to be pawns of a media that wishes to have control – globalist, culturally Marxist, elitism and political conformity – this is the prospect that concerns some of us. When we stop thinking for ourselves and trust some opinion drivers to do our thinking FOR us – this is never good. Our Republic was founded in this knowledge, and the need for an historically knowledgeable population, and the ability for discursive and critical thought about all things, especially policy, and, more important than anything else, an allegiance and true acknowledgement of the United States as being one nation under God (and not government) is vital.
This will not end by any means, so the fight must continue.
The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of The Duran.