Sunday, March 18, 2018

How "well-intended" brilliance may have helped Trump with Facebook metadata (the Cambridge Analytica Caper)



The UK site “The Guardian” (which, by the way, keeps bragging that it hasn’t yet put up a paywall but asks for money) has a book-length article ("The Cambridge Analytica Files" by Carol Cadwalladr)on the story behind the “hack” (so to speak) of Facebook by Cambridge Analytica and the role of 28-year-old (now) gay Canadian computer nerd Christopher Wylie of Facebook, and how Steve Bannon “mis”-used it.  

Wylie has a mind that reminds one of world chess champion Magnus Carlsen – until you realize that even Carlsen one time lost in 22 moves with White to a “patzer” grandmaster.  (I use "brilliance" in the title of this post: in chess, a "brilliancy" is usually a sacrificial combination that ends a game with a forced checkmate.)

Let’s add on this diversion that another former chess world champion, Garry Kasparov, now speaks up for human rights and told Anderson Cooper that he feels safer from Vladimir Putin living in New York than in London.

There’s the whole thing about the harvesting of Facebook data, as if it were a kind of shameful digital epilation. Apparently it was legal to use Facebook friends’ meta data for academic purposes, not for profits, and most of all not to manipulate elections.  The information seems to relate to “friends” of people who had taken personality tests or surveys.

There is some question legally on how you can limit information released legally at first.  Maybe you can call it a trade secret.  Maybe there is copyright or patent law that limits its reuse. 

  
Wylie, like Milo Yiannopoulos, seemed dismissive of “intersectionality” and seemed to want to find a way to keep the more authoritarian “dangerous” aspects of the Left out of politics.  He sees liberals as not “conscientious” about facts or logical reasoning.
  
Here is the New York Times story by Matthew Rosenberg et al. 

Sean Illing gives a detailed explanation for Vox, and notes near the end that there is no direct evidence connecting Camridge and the Trump “team” to the Russians.  It’s “smoke without fire” or “hot air”.  Still, you really wonder how surveys and associated "like" can predict gullibility to highly biased "news" and why so many users were so easily fooled, Amy Chua's tribalism allowed for. 
  
Here is Facebook’s statement on the suspension of Cambridge Analytica. No mention of the Russians or the election here. 

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