What the Cambridge Analytica scandal lacks in substance it sure makes up for in melodrama. Gizmodo, for instance, ran with the headline “Cambridge Analytica Goons Brag About Winning the Election for Trump.” CNN’s ticker doesn’t have enough room for all their coverage on the subject. The story has consumed the mainstream media.
The theory goes something like this: Facebook collected personal information from its users who participated in a personality quiz with their friends on the platform. Cambridge Analytica harvested that data to allegedly brainwash a bunch of rubes into voting for Trump in the 2016 presidential election. Legislators are summoning Facebook executives to answer questions on the matter. Democracy is clearly under threat, after all.
Former Cambridge Analytica employee, turned professional leaker Chris Wylie told CNN reporters he helped develop “a psychological warfare weapon” that could “exploit mental vulnerabilities that our algorithms showed that [Facebook users] had.” In layman’s terms, Wylie worked in the advertising industry.
Tens of thousands of advertising agencies and digital marketers have collected and purchased Facebook user data to serve up ads designed specifically with the mission to persuade the average American to buy the latest useless products and services. Only now, when it serves to further the narrative that the election was fraudulent is the practice being called into question. Security buzzwords like “breach” and “social engineering” are being bandied about, to give the impression the election polls were somehow hacked in favor of Trump.
This is to be expected from clickbait purveyors, talking heads and so-called citizen journalists. Those who have covered American politics prior to the 2016 election, however, should know better than to go along with this sensationalized journalism, when the methods in question amount to the very same micro-targeting political ads used in previous elections.
The very concept that Facebook or Cambridge Analytica could ascertain your “mental vulnerabilities” is formulated on the assumption that Americans are offering up every bit of their private lives and personal information to a survey that asked such questions as,”Do you support gun control?” Answering yes or no hardly amounts to giving up your mental vulnerabilities. This is a basic survey, designed to gauge voter demographics, predict polls and present the candidate in the most favorable light to potential voters.
Facebook allowed Obama campaigners to datamine in precisely the same fashion that now has the media and progressives in uproar. Was there any outrage from the “unbiased” media in 2012? If anything, Americans should be outraged over Facebook’s hypocrisy in allowing the Democrat Party to do the very same thing it is now labeling a “breach.”
The takeaway is that the very same tactics liberals employ to maintain power automatically become malicious and a threat to democracy when used by conservatives.