Cambridge Analytica is a research organization. Apparently, it is funded by the Mercer family, second only to the Koch brothers on the liberal hit list. Both, through their philanthropy, spend millions on various needy organizations like hospitals. What makes them liberal targets is their funding of various conservative think tanks and candidates. I digress.
Cambridge Analytica used Facebook to help gather some information about people who might have helped them target advertising during the 2016 election. The way Cambridge Analytica did it was by putting together a little psychological test as a game for Facebook users to take. It was entirely optional. That data was harvested and allegedly used to help Trump with the targeted ads. Because the beneficiary was Trump, this apparently is a crime. So much so that Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg last week spent days testifying before Congress (not under oath), offering apologies and vowing to never do it (read: help Trump) again. All the while, members of Congress were trying to use this as an excuse to regulate social media.
Let us, however, take a closer look. The business model of Facebook is that you are the product. You willingly sign up. No one forces you. Then you, as a condition of joining willingly, supply them with information about yourself, unlike various government agencies which compel you to give up your privacy under penalty of law. Hell, even the DMV sells your info.
Facebook then sells that information or access to it to various companies and organizations so they can target ads to you. In other words, you willingly let them invade your privacy. From 2011 until 2016, Zuckerberg allowed the Obama campaign to vacuum all data from every subscriber (all over the world) to target voters and get them to vote for Obama and/or Democratic candidates. When this information was made public by The New York Times, the Obama campaign was hailed for its genius. Nobody was aghast, and no one was compelled to testify before Congress. How times have changed.
In fact, at an April 2013 Milken Institute Global Conference titled “In the 21st Century Data Is King,” 2012 Obama campaign manager Jim Messina told a panel, “We spent a billion dollars to figure out a simple truth: What your friends and family and neighbors say is more important to your consumer decisions and your political decisions than anything else, because you’re getting so much data thrown at you. So, the final six days of the campaign, 6 million people logged on to Facebook through BarackObama.com and they saw a 20-second Michelle Obama video and at the end of the 20 seconds, we had matched our data with their data. And we gave them five of their best friends who are undecided voters and said, ‘Click here to send them a video, click here to send them information.’ Of those people, 78 percent of them voted for Barack Obama.”
It sure sounds like for quite a while, political campaigns had been using Facebook to go out there and persuade and manipulate voters. Nobody had a problem with it then. So, what’s wrong with Cambridge Analytica doing it now? Easy answer: because it helped Trump.
This is what I say. What say you?