Re: Cambridge Analytica

Berlin, December 10, 2016 | #CambridgeAnalytica #Marketing #Vaporware

So far, the "imaginary product" is almost 100% vaporware. The great success of right-wing propaganda is not that the Trump campaign (or CA, SCL, the alt-right or the Russians) manipulated the U.S. election by means of fake news, big data, geo-location, micro-targeting and psychological warfare, but that they manage to make people believe that that's how they did it.

Above all, this "feature" is a huge pile of marketing BS.

Fact: The Trump campaign looked at voter demographics, on a map.

Forbes: "Kushner built a custom geo-location tool that plotted the location density of about 20 voter types over a live Google Maps interface."

Fact: The Trump campaign used social media to collect donations.

Forbes: "For fundraising they turned to machine learning, installing digital marketing companies on a trading floor to make them compete for business. Ineffective ads were killed in minutes, while successful ones scaled. The campaign was sending more than 100,000 uniquely tweaked ads to targeted voters each day."

That's better, but it's still a pile of marketing BS.

#1. Kushner's main project for Trump was Cambridge Analytica
#14. CA has microtargeting info on 220 million Americans
#15. CA claims to have 4K-5K data points on each American

Wikipedia: "Today in the United States we have somewhere close to four or five thousand data points on every individual. ... So we model the personality of every adult across the United States, some 230 million people." - Alexander Nix (Chief Executive, Cambridge Analytica), October 2016." (1)

Source? Another "fluff piece" that ran on Rupert Murdoch's Sky News (2).

What are "data points"? Sounds scary! Are they feature vectors? Who cares! Breaking news: "Self-driving cars will be equipped with 4 to 5 wheels."

Multiplied by 230 million? The U.S. Adult population is below 250 million (3), 84% of which use the Internet (4), and 62% of which use social media (5). That's about 155 million. But again, who cares about numbers.

#9. CA is a subsidiary of London-based SCL Group
#10. SCL Group is known for military disinformation campaigns

Wikipedia: "SLC's involvement in the political world has been primarily in the developing world where it has been used by the military and politicians to study and manipulate public opinion and political will. [...] SCL claims to have been successful to help foment coups." (6)

Source? A 2015 story on Politico (7). Their source? A 2005 article on Slate (8). The original quote?

"Strategic Communication Laboratories, a small U.K. firm specializing in 'influence operations' made a very public debut this week with a glitzy exhibit occupying prime real estate at Defense Systems & Equipment International, or DSEi, the United Kingdom's largest showcase for military technology. The main attraction was a full-scale mock-up of its ops center, running simulations ranging from natural disasters to political coups." (8)

SCL's "claims" of "success"? Pure marketing BS. Want to read the next paragraph of that article?

"Just to the right of the ops center, a dark-suited man with a wireless microphone paces like a carnival barker, narrating the scenarios. Above him a screen flashes among scenes of disaster, while to his right, behind thick glass, workers sit attentively before banks of computer screens, busily scrolling through data. The play actors pause only to look up at a big board that flashes ominously between 'hot spots' like North Korea and Congo."

Jack Bauer just called, and he wants his war room back!

#12. Most of CA's data is collected without users knowing
#13. Most of CA's data is collected without users' permission

This is simply false. Anyone who uses social media must know that large-scale data collection (government, commercial, grey market) is exactly what is happening. Anyone who uses social media has explicitely agreed to this, and is actively contributing to a global surveillance system whose aim is to model and manipulate human behavior.

Or, from the horse's mouth: "Mr Nix said Cambridge Analytica does not believe its methods are 'intrusive'. He said: 'The data we're using is freely available to license or purchase, and most of this data has had the agreement of the users to be licensed or sold.'" (2)

That guy is right.








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