March 22, 2018

Cambridge Analytica scandal for thee but not for me


The media is all agog over the fact that the Trump campaign worked with data collection and usage firm Cambridge Analytica which leveraged Facebook data for message targeting for the Trump campaign.  They fail to note that when president Obama was a candidate, his team was doing the exact same thing.  So while it's a terrible scandal for president Trump, it was apparently a genius move when team Obama did the same thing.  In reality the worst thing president Trump's election team could be accused of doing is copying a formula that worked for his predecessor (whom the media still adore).

The Hill, not exactly a bastion of Trump support, reports:
On Sunday, The Guardian reported on the supposedly nefarious workings of President Trump’s data-gathering team at Cambridge Analytica. The report suggested that Cambridge Analytica had essentially issued questionnaires through a third party; those questionnaires, which were personality quizzes, requested that you use your Facebook login. Cambridge Analytica then compiled data regarding those who completed the quiz and cross-referenced that data with political preferences in order to target potential voters.
This isn’t particularly shocking. In 2012, The Guardian reported that President Obama’s reelection team was “building a vast digital data operation that for the first time combines a unified database on millions of Americans with the power of Facebook to target individual voters to a degree never achieved before.” 
What, exactly, would Obama be doing? According to The Guardian, Obama’s new database would be gathered by asking individual volunteers to log into Obama’s reelection site using their Facebook credentials. “Consciously or otherwise,” The Guardian states, “the individual volunteer will be injecting all the information they store publicly on their Facebook page — home location, date of birth, interests and, crucially, network of friends — directly into the central Obama database.” 
Facebook had no problem with such activity then. They do now.  
There’s a reason for that. The former Obama director of integration and media analytics stated that, during the 2012 campaign, Facebook allowed the Obama team to “suck out the whole social graph”; Facebook “was surprised we were able to suck out the whole social graph, but they didn’t stop us once they realized that was what we were doing.” She added, “They came to [the] 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.”
Not so with Trump. As soon as Facebook realized that Cambridge Analytica had pursued a similar strategy, they suspended the firm.
Part of the problem here is timing.  Facebook (specifically Mark Zuckerberg) has provided a mea culpa for political purposes (they are heavy Democrat supporters) as a way to try yet again to tarnish president Trump with something, anything, that they think will stick.  It's interesting as the Mueller fever begins to break that yet one more attempt has been made to take out president Trump's 2016 electoral victory credibility.  

News flash liberals - it didn't work before, it's not working now, and it won't work with this either.  You are looking increasingly desperate and hypocritical in your reporting, simultaneously.  That's an impressively odious feat but it's not going to help your cause of deposing a duly elected president.  But keep it up - actions always have consequences.  Maybe even Zuckerberg will discover this too.

[ADDITIONAL NOTE & FULL DISCLOSURE: I work in data analytics and we have clear guidelines to follow for what data is acceptable to use and what would infringe upon privacy rights. If anyone is guilty in this it's not Camebridge Analytica or their clients, it's Facebook for not protecting user rights. That's the real scandal - they either are protecting user rights or they allow any non-criminal organization access to user data and advise Facebook users accordingly.  They wanted to have it both ways, under the radar.  At a minimum they were deliberately negligent until a time of their choosing, at worst, they are complicit in deceptive and predatory practices for political purposes.]

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