The problem isn’t Cambridge Analytica: It’s Facebook

“Cambridge Analytica garnered headlines across the world on Friday as Facebook formally suspended the company from its platform over allegations that it had improperly received and retained data on tens of millions of Facebook users from an academic researcher that had originally obtained the data legally and properly in accordance with previous Facebook developer guidelines,” Kalev Leetaru writes for Forbes. “However, whether or not the allegations are true (the company has denied them), the singular focus on Cambridge Analytica makes for a simple meme-worthy media narrative, but the reality is that what the company stands accused of by Facebook is in fact what academic researchers, commercial enterprises, governments and even the social media companies themselves do every day with the data entrusted to them by a quarter of the earth’s population.”

“Perhaps the most remarkable takeaway from coverage of the 2016 election is just how starkly changed the reaction of the public and media has been to political use of data-driven election targeting since the 2008 and 2012 Obama campaigns,” Leetaru writes. “When the Obama campaign pushed the boundaries of precision voter targeting, pioneering techniques like peering into the privacy of American’s living rooms through their DVRs to see what each individual voter was actually watching on their televisions, the press and public cheered, hailing it as a long overdue modernization of the campaigning process and holding up the campaign’s data scientists as miniature heroes showcasing what could be done with data today. In the leadup to the 2016 election, the press and public derided the Trump campaign as apparently being data-devoid, while hailing Clinton’s campaign as picking up the data-first mantle from the Obama campaign and pushing it even further. In short, data was good and pushing the privacy and ethical boundaries of data to monitor and manipulate voters was a positive, modernizing campaigning in line with the commercial advertising world.”

“A year later in the midst of a stunning election upset and investigations of Russian influence, the tenor towards data-driven politicking has turned upside down… Though, before attributing absolute campaigning power to data, it is important to remember that Cruz’s failed presidential bid relied on the same firm and data that is credited with Trump’s win, calling into question the level of impact it actually had,” Leetaru writes. “A central theme of the rhetoric and coverage of Cambridge Analytica is that it somehow violated accepted societal norms over the use of Facebook data, with politicians, regulators and major news outlets referring to it in the cybersecurity parlance of a data “breach.” In fact, this could not be further from the truth in our modern ‘surveillance economy.'”

“Cambridge Analytica’s alleged use of Facebook data for voter targeting pales in comparison with the ways in which Facebook itself exploits its private user data for its own purposes and those of the researchers that collaborate with it,” Leetaru writes. “Instead of holding Cambridge Analytica up as a villain, if society at large has concerns about how their Facebook social media personas can be used to monitor and potentially manipulate them, they should take a closer look at the platform that makes it all possible: Facebook.”

Tins more in the full article – highly recommendedhere.

MacDailyNews Take: The problem is two-fold: Facebook – and companies like Facebook that thrive on user data (Google, for one, if not the, prime example) and gullible users who piss their privacy and the privacy of their “friends” away willy-nilly while naively sending their DNA off to be analyzed by other companies.

Stop the idiocy!

SEE ALSO:
It’s past time for you to STOP USING FACEBOOK – March 19, 2018
Delete your Facebook: The only way to win the social game is not to play – March 19, 2018
How you access the super creepy data that Facebook has on you – March 12, 2018
Facebook asks users: Should we allow men to ask children for sexual images? – March 6, 2018
Study: Facebook is for old people – February 12, 2018
Mark Zuckerberg is fighting to save Facebook; announces major change to News Feed – January 12, 2018
Facebook developing ‘Portal’ gadget which will let it put microphones and cameras in people’s homes – January 11, 2018
Facebook is giving the US government more and more data – December 21, 2017
Former Facebook exec: Facebook is ‘destroying how society works’ – December 11, 2017

Google’s Eric Schmidt wore staff badge at Hillary Clinton’s ‘victory’ party – November 16, 2016
WikiLeaks emails show extremely close relationship between Clinton campaign and Google’s Eric Schmidt – November 1, 2016
Eric Schmidt-backed startup stealthily working to put Hillary Clinton in the White House – October 9, 2015
Edward Snowden’s privacy tips: ‘Get rid of Dropbox,” avoid Facebook and Google – October 13, 2014
Consumer Watchdog calls for probe of Google’s inappropriate relationship with Obama administration – January 25, 2011
Google, CIA Invest in ‘future’ of Web monitoring – July 29, 2010

36 Comments

  1. It’s not just the data, Cambridge Analytica targeted Facebook users with ads and campaign material. Only focusing on the data aspect negates all the other problems of how companies use FB for nefarious purposes. And companies that do so — particularly foreign companies meddling in our elections — need to be held accountable. Here’s the original article that blew Cambridge Analytica’s cover over a year ago. Why the issue has become so popular today is a mystery.

    https://motherboard.vice.com/en_us/article/mg9vvn/how-our-likes-helped-trump-win

    1. The rightful popularity today is because The Guardian posted a series of highly detailed article over the weekend. They have been working with whistleblower / data engineer from Cambridge Analytica, Christopher Wylie, for months documenting the situation and preparing for its revelation. Good on the Guardian! I luv ’em.

      As such, The Guardian has volumes more information on the situation that was available at the time of the Michal Kosinski revelations.

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

      And NO, this abuse of US and UK citizen personal data is NOT JUST about stupid Facebook. It’s also about:

      • Psychopathic individuals who are out to damage the world’s governments for their own nefarious purposes. Hello Breitbart.

      • The herd mentality and gullibility of species Homo ‘sapiens sapiens’ (Ha!) in general.

      • The intense study and elaborations upon aspects of psychology that can be used to manipulate mankind.

      • Worthless political parties that have abandoned any iota of actual ‘representation’ or their sworn protection of their country’s constitutions in favor of the usual human vices and childish game playing. In the USA: Hello to BOTH the Democrats and Republicans, you treasonous scum.

      We The People are under constant propaganda attack. Don’t doubt it.

      And yes, We The People are, by feeding ourselves into parasitic marketing machines like Facebook, Google, ad nauseam, are The Food Of The Psychopaths.

      [Note that psychopathy remains a poorly described and understood human malady and therefore requires many decades of further professional study and funding. As such, take my use of the word as abstract.]

  2. The proof that the U.S. mainstream media is broken is clear:

    When Obama exploited data to win, it was “genius.”

    When Trump exploited data to win, it was “evil.”

    1. That is an overly simplistic characterization, Superior Being. But, I would expect nothing less (or more) from you.

      For instance, the manner in which the data is acquired is important, as it speaks to the character of the people who are exploiting it. The cover up and incessant lying also speak to the flaws of the people involved in this situation. It is an “end justifies the means” mindset that cares only about vote totals.

      I am not justifying the use of personal data by the Obama, Clinton, or other campaigns by other political parties. Those have to be judged on their own factors – what personal data they used, how it was collected, etc. But I find it highly instructive that your primary takeaway from this sordid tale is yet another partisan shot at the public media.

      What do you think about the Trump campaign’s use of this personal data? Are you bothered at all?

      1. Facts are often simple. Your anonymous characterization as “overly simplistic” is a weak, transparent attempt to obfuscate the simple facts I presented, that cannot be refuted and can easily be backed up with copious examples proving the statements to be incontrovertibly true:

        The proof that the U.S. mainstream media is broken is clear:

        When Obama exploited data to win, it was “genius.”

        When Trump exploited data to win, it was “evil.”

        1. Your attempt to contrast two statements is essentially meaningless because “exploited data to win” could mean:
          “called people who previously voted for the party candidate to ask them to vote again this year.”
          It could also mean:
          “broke into people’s houses to look at their photos, then call them and tell them to stay home if they don’t want their family to be killed.”

          So, unless you define what you mean by “exploited data to win,” and that it meant essentially the same thing for both candidates, you haven’t demonstrated that the media was wrong to characterize one “exploit” as evil and one as genius.
          So, do your homework and make your point, if you actually have one.

          1. A former Obama campaign official is claiming that Facebook knowingly allowed them to mine massive amounts of Facebook data — more than they would’ve allowed someone else to do — because they were supportive of the campaign.

            In a Sunday tweet thread, Carol Davidson, former director of integration and media analytics for Obama for America, said the 2012 campaign led Facebook to “suck out the whole social graph” and target potential voters. They would then use that data to do things like append their email lists.

            When Facebook found out what they were doing, they were “surprised,” she said. But she also claimed they didn’t stop them once they found out.

            “They came to office in the days following election recruiting & were very candid that they allowed us to do things they wouldn’t have allowed someone else to do because they were on our side,” Davidson tweeted.

            Davidsen began the tweet thread with a link to a Time Magazine article outlining the Obama campaign’s Facebook targeting campaign, which she said was codenamed “Project Taargus”:

            That’s because the more than 1 million Obama backers who signed up for the [Facebook-based app] gave the campaign permission to look at their Facebook friend lists. In an instant, the campaign had a way to see the hidden young voters. Roughly 85% of those without a listed phone number could be found in the uploaded friend lists. What’s more, Facebook offered an ideal way to reach them. “People don’t trust campaigns. They don’t even trust media organizations,” says Goff. “Who do they trust? Their friends.”

            The campaign called this effort targeted sharing. And in those final weeks of the campaign, the team blitzed the supporters who had signed up for the app with requests to share specific online content with specific friends simply by clicking a button. More than 600,000 supporters followed through with more than 5 million contacts, asking their friends to register to vote, give money, vote or look at a video designed to change their mind. A geek squad in Chicago created models from vast data sets to find the best approaches for each potential voter. “We are not just sending you a banner ad,” explains Dan Wagner, the Obama campaign’s 29-year-old head of analytics, who helped oversee the project. “We are giving you relevant information from your friends.”

            1. Right, so you’ve now showed what “exploited data to win” meant for Obama. And, it looks like that is similar to how they are saying Trump / Cambridge Analytica used the data, so I’ll buy your argument here.
              In fact, I’ll agree beyond that: the mainstream media regularly covered for (or downplayed) Obama’s use of drones to execute people, including American citizens, including large numbers of innocent people who happened to be near a target.
              One thing is for sure: when a Democrat does some horrifying war-mongering bullshit, the media will excuse it. Then again, they often play along with Republicans on that, too.
              One thing that seems to have bipartisan support is the U.S. imperial war machine.
              Disgusting.

            2. So what you are saying is that both sides use slimy immortal practices, but it should be excused if your side is successful?

              My reaction is simpler: stop giving a free pass to either party. Vote independent. Stop the corruption by kicking both parties out.

            3. Yep.
              I believe the point is the ENTIRE NEWS MEDIA gave Obama a pass when his election team bragged about this.

              One small peep from someone claiming to do this for Trump and the ENTIRE NEWS MEDIA is screaming “Scandal” before doing any fact checking.

            4. MacObserver,

              Wrong.

              Trump campaign phased out use of Cambridge Analytica data before election

              The Trump campaign never used the psychographic data at the heart of a whistleblower who once worked to help acquire the data’s reporting — principally because it was relatively new and of suspect quality and value.

              In late September 2016, Cambridge and other data vendors were submitting bids to the Trump campaign. Then-candidate Trump’s campaign used Cambridge Analytica during the primaries and in the summer because it was never certain the Republican National Committee would be a willing, cooperative partner. Cambridge Analytica instead was a hedge against the RNC, in case it wouldn’t share its data.

              The crucial decision was made in late September or early October when Mr. Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner and Brad Parscale, Mr. Trump’s digital guru on the 2016 campaign, decided to utilize just the RNC data for the general election and used nothing from that point from Cambridge Analytica or any other data vendor. The Trump campaign had tested the RNC data, and it proved to be vastly more accurate than Cambridge Analytica’s, and when it was clear the RNC would be a willing partner, Mr. Trump’s campaign was able to rely solely on the RNC.

              The Trump contact with the firm ended on Election Day 2016 and has not been part of the Trump re-election campaign process.Major Garrett, CBS News, March 18, 2018

    2. You know your brain is broken when you can’t even admit the FRAUDULENT means by which your side acquired its data, including FOREIGN operatives.

      Get a clue.

  3. LITTLE KNOWN KEY FACT:

    Data miners (spies, really) such as NSA, Facebook, Choice Point, Cambridge Analytica, et al, develop your likely future behavior and thinking based on your present behavior and thinking to a supremely accurate degree. They know your future emotional, psychological, economic, and intellictual core being – your heart and mind – more than you do.

    On a small, local scale, it’s harmless and is voluntary. For example, MDN and most of us here know that your participation in MDN will most likely lead to our future purchases of Apple products.

    The danger is when those powerful entities above sculpt fake news stories and governmental propaganda to sway public opinion in order to change public opinion against the public’s best interest. For example, when they use emotionally charged words and concepts to which they know will sway you that they learned from your prifile to alter your opinion about an issue such as unions. If you hate unions even more now, it’s likely for that reason.

    But how to prent it? Two steps: MDN advises not using FB is one which we Catholics frame as avoiding “the near occasion of sin.” The other is, in my case, to follow my North Star which is my core, egalitarian values no matter what the noises around me shout.

  4. I read the article and I say one big Duh? What did you think Facebook and google and everyone else are doing with data about YOU? They are exploiting YOU to MAKE MONEY.

    Now, the whole notion that I was “manipulated” by a “targeted ad on facebook” to vote one way or another is laughable. Hilarious actually. I pay ABSOLUTELY NO ATTENTION to web ads because MOST OF THEM are fraudulent. The only reason I let the ads go through on the MDN site is most of them here aren’t completely fake.

    If you haven’t figured all this out yet, you’re an idiot. It’s obvious. Even my 87 year old uncle, who keeps in touch with the younger ones via FB, has all this figured out.

    Bottom line: 1) view EVERYTHING on the web, especially ads, with suspicion and 2) if you are “getting something for free” on the web, YOU are the product. 🙂

      1. yes, my mind plays lots of tricks on me all the time but how I vote is taken seriously and I do a lot of research from a lot of sources before I vote. 10,000 ads on FB that I don’t pay attention to or nefarious websites with outrageous claims play no part in my decision process.

        1. Yes, you pay attention and they do indeed play a part if only to avoid falling victim to nefarious and outrageous claims. Still, science says that the subconscious mind does not distingush truth from falsity so this means that you, and I for that matter, may not be able to know when our deep beliefs are true or false. This is my interpretation.

          1. there is lots of stuff that I don’t know, but one thing for sure I know is my “deep beliefs” are true.

            Here is one of my “deep beliefs” that is absolutely true:

            I don’t give a rat’s a$$ what your problem is, the government isn’t going to solve it. Solutions only come from within yourself, your faith, and your family.

            Nothing anyone says to me will ever change that belief. No politician, no egghead scientist, no one.

            Here is another one:
            “I’ve seen the depth of suffering and the peaks of triumph and I know in my heart that man is good, that what is right will always eventually triumph and that there is purpose and worth to each and every life.”

            The above is absolutely true. You might think I learned that from Ronald Reagan but I actually learned it from Jimmy Valvano. Coach V looked me right in the eye and said “I believe in you”. 🙂

  5. Yeah, I remember when Eric Schmidt of Google was angling for a cabinet seat, Commerce or something, due to all the help Google gave Obama to get him elected/re-elected. I thought Hillary would be a slam-dunk to get elected given what a joke Trump’s campaign machine appeared to be, but whadya know. He surprised even himself and now the joke’s on us!

  6. Also out today, this UK article and video about Mind F-ing. In their case, it was the Brexit vote that was propagandized and damaged:

    Watch Cambridge Analytica’s CEO Offer to Entrap Political Opponents With Sex Workers
    Secret video of Cambridge Analytica’s top executives reveals how the firm covertly and unethically influences elections around the world.

    Secret video of Cambridge Analytica’s top executives reveals how the firm covertly, and unethically, influences elections around the world.

    An undercover video report on Cambridge Analytica, the data analytics company hired by Donald Trump’s presidential election campaign, was posted by Britain’s Channel 4 News today….

    1. Wow. Just wow. Thank you, Derek. Unbelievable. You are right: totally Mind F-ing. Highly recommended.

      Everyone interested in democratic process — and how it can be so easily corrupted and exploited by shady organizations and social media — should watch this video.

      Republicans and other Trump sycophants: this video gives an indication of how you have been manipulated.

    2. And no, the problem is not (just) Facebook. It is also — and primarily — shady organizations like Cambridge Analytica.

      Facebook is just the medium. (And just one of them, at that.) The really dishonest work is done by folks like Cambridge Analytica. Then they _use_ social media to subvert the truth and serve their dastardly ends.

    3. Over at The Register, they’ve just published an article entitled:

      BOOM! Cambridge Analytica explodes following extraordinary TV expose
      Undercover investigation reveals dodgy tactics and sparks search warrant

      Controversial data analytics firm Cambridge Analytics has been hit with an emergency data seizure order following an extraordinary series of events Monday night that revolved around a TV undercover expose.

      Following a day in which the company became the focus on attention online, in print, and in Parliament and Congress for its unethical use of user data, senior executives from the firm were then shown on camera boasting about the use of dark methods, including honey traps, fake news and sub-contracting with ex-spies to entrap individuals.

      Those revelations – filmed during an undercover investigation by Channel 4 in the UK – came as the controversial company was already in the news after it was revealed it had secretly grabbed the personal details of over 50 million Facebook users and used the data to sell voter targeting services….

      A delightful day.

    4. THEN THIS HAPPENED:

      Facebook security chief reportedly leaving company after clashes over Russian disinformation

      “There are a lot of big problems that the big tech companies need to be better at fixing. We have collectively been too optimistic about what we build and our impact on the world,” he wrote on the social media platform.

      “I have always felt that the individuals who actually work on these problems should be engaged publicly. Doing so means balancing one’s personal beliefs with their responsibility to their co-workers and employers. I don’t know how to do that in this media environment,” he added.

      1. Perhaps it is time to regulate Social Media. Sort of the same way peer-reviewed academic papers must be vetted before publication. I cannot believe they have not already done this. Don’t be so quick to publish shady news. Investigate, punish — and share w other media outlets and govt officials — offending parties. And put together an independent board to vet and approve any dodgy-looking news article before it is disseminated.

        I cannot believe Google, Facebook, and all the rest would allow our fundamental Western values of truth, honesty, and openness — passed down from the ancient Greeks, and upon which we owe modern democracy — to be so easily and wantonly subverted. None of them has any scruples.

        It all sadly reminds me of Alan Greenspan, who was shocked — shocked ! — that bankers would not regulate themselves! and would nearly collapse the world financial system in pursuit of their petty monetary gain.

        1. It ends up a dilemma of balancing the best and worst of humanity. One big problem at the moment is identifying the worst of humanity, expecting what they are going to do with their lives, stopping them from doing it and putting them to work (against their worst nature) benefiting mankind instead. Or so I dream (and write). This is why I rant on about the primitive state of psychology and why we are required to study psychopathy in humans for the sake of our own survival. Admittedly, it’s a tough and difficult subject. Psychopathy isn’t on or off. It’s yet another wide spectrum within our population as a whole. We’re all capable of being psycho when we’re in what I call Desperation Mode. The critical problem of course is dealing with those who are psycho under any circumstance. Those are the predators.

          Meanwhile, REAL over-regulation can result in ‘The Department of Truth’ and ‘The Department of Love’ bullshite mind f-ing as per ‘Nineteen Eighty-Four’ dystopian nightmares.

          Work, work and more work on our brilliant but shabby selves. Not so sapiens sapiens, are we.

    5. And of course:

      How Trump Consultants Exploited the Facebook Data of Millions

      The firm had secured a $15 million investment from Robert Mercer, the wealthy Republican donor, and wooed his political adviser, Stephen K. Bannon, with the promise of tools that could identify the personalities of American voters and influence their behavior. But it did not have the data to make its new products work….

      Mr. Bannon, who became a board member and investor, chose the name: Cambridge Analytica.

      1. Trump campaign phased out use of Cambridge Analytica data before election

        The Trump campaign never used the psychographic data at the heart of a whistleblower who once worked to help acquire the data’s reporting — principally because it was relatively new and of suspect quality and value.

        In late September 2016, Cambridge and other data vendors were submitting bids to the Trump campaign. Then-candidate Trump’s campaign used Cambridge Analytica during the primaries and in the summer because it was never certain the Republican National Committee would be a willing, cooperative partner. Cambridge Analytica instead was a hedge against the RNC, in case it wouldn’t share its data.

        The crucial decision was made in late September or early October when Mr. Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner and Brad Parscale, Mr. Trump’s digital guru on the 2016 campaign, decided to utilize just the RNC data for the general election and used nothing from that point from Cambridge Analytica or any other data vendor. The Trump campaign had tested the RNC data, and it proved to be vastly more accurate than Cambridge Analytica’s, and when it was clear the RNC would be a willing partner, Mr. Trump’s campaign was able to rely solely on the RNC.

        The Trump contact with the firm ended on Election Day 2016 and has not been part of the Trump re-election campaign process.Major Garrett, CBS News, March 18, 2018

  7. My impression is that Cook’s Apple does not involve itself in this cesspoolish spying behavior. But I wonder if the denizens of the cesspool have penetrated Apple’s data somehow so that it’s not as secure as I hope.

  8. Okay MDN, so you think scum outfits like Cambridge Analytica are not the problem. The only way this can be so is if you are attributing the real blame to the massive data theft and misinformation campaigns to the individuals behind these kind of political cesspool organizations. Namely, Mercer and Bannon. Truth means nothing to these political hacks, they use the methods of Goebbels to brainwash the masses. If you support this because you favor the Mercer candidate , then just as easily tomorrow you will support the next authoritarian. Some of the people here are so brainwashed that they would sing praises of Trump if he stepped up his hateful rhetoric and did what he hints openly he really wants to do: follow the fascist dictatorial actions of Putin, Franco, Mussolini, or Stalin. He wants to lock up the opposition political party without trial. He wants to control the press. He wants to cripple schools. He paints minorities and immigrants as scapegoats exactly as Hitler did the same for the Jews. Trump sabre rattles with North Korea and Iran as if he wanted an excuse to start a war. The only difference between Trump’s multinational misinformation ministers and those of a prior generation is that prior dictators had enough balls to use military power to maintain their office. Trump the carnival barker has bone spurs so all you get from that chicken hawk is incessant smoke and mirrors on Twitter trying to discredit and actively tear down necessary government institutions and all the checks and balances that the forefathers expected to work. The writers of the constitution never envisioned a day when propaganda would be so powerful to brainwash half the nation. Facebook and Google are happy to profit from the divided nation. They will take money from anyone, from any nation. No surprise there. Corporations aren’t in business to maintain a democracy. Neither is Mercer, Bannon, or Trump. How anyone could dismiss the theft of 50 million Facebook files as normal acceptable campaigning is puzzling. No, psychotic. This is not democracy. This is one step closer to fascism.

Leave a Reply to valde Cancel reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.