In our Free Market, where unfettered competition (LOL) for higher profits is the only order of business, those corporations who manipulate their customer base the best are the most successful. If sharks are in charge of all public policy, it is not surprising their only priority will be meat. If maximizing their supply of meat depends on intimate knowledge of the habits of those they eat, they will get that competitive edge, whatever it takes. Data collection and sophisticated data crunching are essential to wholesale meat-eating in our complex, digital world.
The genius of that twat who invented Facebook, for example, was to combine the essential loneliness of disconnected people, their hunger for connection, and a seamless way to harvest the essential data and psychological profiles user-expressed preferences provide. This valuable data can then be sold to shrewd data-mining operators. No wonder the fine fellow is a multi-billionaire. The valuable real-time marketing research information revealed to a company like Facebook is incredibly useful commercially and politically, as the recent American presidential election demonstrated.
Now we come to Cambridge Analytica, a company that specializes in data-driven results, commercial and political. From its inception it engaged in psyops, psychological warfare, using whatever means were necessary to win hearts and minds to persuade the persuadable towards the wishes of their clients. It is owned by reclusive billionaire and Trump savior Robert Mercer, no slouch in data analysis himself. The company began with a huge cache of psychological user profiles obtained from Facebook. As an article in the Guardian states, in connection to Cambridge Analytica’s major role in determining the outcome of the Brexit vote:
Facebook was the source of the psychological insights that enabled Cambridge Analytica to target individuals. It was also the mechanism that enabled them to be delivered on a large scale. source
From that same article, a description of the company’s mission, by an ex-employee:
“Psyops. Psychological operations – the same methods the military use to effect mass sentiment change. It’s what they mean by winning ‘hearts and minds’. We were just doing it to win elections in the kind of developing countries that don’t have many rules.”
If you want to throw up in your mouth a little, all you need to do is read this Wikipedia entry. It is not long, but it is perfectly chilling. I’ve never read a Wiki more horrifying. Then, if you want a real shiver of horror, click here. All you need to do is click “political” on the home page, right there next to “commercial” and look at the first screen that pops up. I watched the images on that screen loop for a minute, words failing me, unable to click any further. As a service to my reader(s) I revisited the site. A click-through of the CA Political menu, accessed through the three bars top right, was grimly rewarding.
Data drives all we do, yo. Persuasion vs. Manipulation– who is to really say? Isn’t it really a matter of opinion? Opinion is as American as apple pie and a bloated military budget. “Manipulate” is such a poisoned and judgmental word. Is it even against the law to manipulate people? If so, a lot of our largest, most lucrative businesses would have to close shop. LOL!
Secretive billionaire computer genius Robert Mercer bought the company a few years ago, fair enough. Oh yeah, his friend Steve Bannon partially owns Cambridge Analytica, or owned it, or at the very least was until recently vice president of the sophisticated propaganda machine– at any rate, he disclosed $125,333 in income from the firm last year. And Kellyanne Conway’s consulting firm did work for Cambridge Analytica in 2016. The company is now reportedly getting military contracts from the Department of Defense under Trump. Yeah, so what? Your point is?