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The Facebook and Cambridge Analytica Thread


SpursRiot2012
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So, what do we think? It all started with the Observer, who broke the following story about a massive data breach at Facebook linked to Cambridge Analytica (shady motherfuckers, it is known):

The Cambridge Analytica Files ‘I made Steve Bannon’s psychological warfare tool’: meet the data war whistleblower.

Then, today, Channel 4 News took things a step further, running an undercover operation where they got directors at CA to admit they will do all kinds of shady shit for wealthy clients:

Revealed: Trump’s election consultants filmed saying they use bribes and sex workers to entrap politicians

Now, this isn't that* shocking. Carole Cadwalladr has been doing sterling, fantastic journalism on these guys for months, all the way back to May last year at least (The great British Brexit robbery: how our democracy was hijacked)

But it does seem like this thing is starting to hit something of critical mass. Facebook sent its goons into Cambridge Analytica tonight, ostensibly to "investigate", but who knows what they were actually doing. But the ICO office declared they were seeking a warrant for the Cambridge Analytica servers, so the Facebook guys 'stood down.' I don't know where all this is going, but there is a good chance we could see Mark fucking Zuckerberg in front of a parliamentary committee sometime soon.

This finally pushed me to delete (not deactivate) my Facebook account. I know I'm just a drop in the ocean, but it used to be that you used Facebook because they provided you a service for 'free', the fee was your data. Well, I'm no longer getting value for my fee. So they can fuck off.

Edited by SpursRiot2012
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3 minutes ago, Chest Rockwell said:

The scope is clearly much wider than just Trump.

Absolutely. Wider than Trump, wider than Facebook, wider than Cambridge Analytica.

It's going to turn out that it's one of many such tools, many such companies, used by the likes of Steve Bannon (and his paymasters) to fundamentally undermine democracy in Western nations, or manipulate people to encourage the results that they want. And, as ever with digital/new tech, getting away with it in the main because the law develops slower than technology.

There are networks of far-right and nationalist groups that have been building for decades, because the far-right and extremist groups are better practiced in networking than the rest of us, and better practiced in cloaking their ideology in more palatable language than the rest of us, as they've spent years being (rightly) pushed to the fringes, meaning that they had to develop these networks and ways of communicating to keep their message alive. What was once some C-18 literature in a brown paper bag from the back of a dodgy tattoo parlour became online message boards, became Reddit, became social media, became the "dark web", and became coordinated means of spreading their message in subtle, guarded terms.

All you need is an oligarch or two that's sympathetic to their beliefs, or else sees their beliefs as a means to an end, and they'll start pumping money into promoting these unsavoury networks and building them up to the point where they went from a fringe concern to a genuine factor impacting on elections. And not everyone involved at the tech level needs to share the same goals - they just need to be either uncaring or unscrupulous enough to take the money without being concerned about the effect, or narrow enough in focus to see any result as a proof of concept, rather than real world consequences. I wrote in another thread about the notion of "fake news" and so on being part of a broader problem about fighting for the objective nature of truth, that I think will be an ideological battle for decades to come, and this sort of thing is a huge part of the problem.

 

The problem is that when you start drawing connections between Steve Bannon, Donald Trump, Cambridge Analytica, the Brexit campaign, Russia, Wikileaks, far-right groups and so on, it starts to sound like you're only a step or two away from raving about the Rothschilds and the reptilians. People have to be clear to distinguish between abuse of power, and real but limited power, and absolute power, which is the realm of conspiracy theories. One of the many uphill battles this leaves us with is not just how do you combat this sort of thing, but how do you effectively communicate it to the general public without sounding like a sore loser, without sounding like you're making excuses, and so on. If you look at the evidence of Russian collusion, the right-wing's response is either, "you lost, get over it!", or "no Russian ever told me who to vote for!". People don't think advertising works, because everyone thinks they're too smart to be tricked, so it's hard to communicate to people why this sort of politicised targeted advertising is a big deal.

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9 hours ago, BomberPat said:

All you need is an oligarch or two that's sympathetic to their beliefs, or else sees their beliefs as a means to an end, and they'll start pumping money into promoting these unsavoury networks and building them up to the point where they went from a fringe concern to a genuine factor impacting on elections. And not everyone involved at the tech level needs to share the same goals - they just need to be either uncaring or unscrupulous enough to take the money without being concerned about the effect, or narrow enough in focus to see any result as a proof of concept, rather than real world consequences. I wrote in another thread about the notion of "fake news" and so on being part of a broader problem about fighting for the objective nature of truth, that I think will be an ideological battle for decades to come, and this sort of thing is a huge part of the problem.

I posted this a while back (but none of ya's read it). This is a long read article on the wealthy funding radical campaigns and using Cambridge Analytica for research and propaganda. It's well worth a read.

https://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2017/03/27/the-reclusive-hedge-fund-tycoon-behind-the-trump-presidency

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