Facebook, Cambridge Analytics, and Brexit

This story from Reuters announcing “Facebook parent Meta to settle Cambridge Analytica scandal case for $725” million has me wondering. Can Facebook be sued for their part in securing a leave win in the Brexit referendum?

It is my understanding that Dominic Cummings and Vote Leave took the information Cambridge Analytica scraped from Facebook, built detailed profiles of users, then targeted them with advertising designed to nudge voters in the 2016 referendum.

For those who think Facebook’s reach and impact is negligible, just another silly social media platform, consider this. 17,410,742 people voted to leave the European Union, compared to the 16,141,241 who voted to remain. That’s a difference of 1,269,501 people. Vote Leave won by nudging the attitudes and opinions of at least, but probably more than, 1.25 million people. The thing is, that’s only 2.82% of the 45 million people it’s estimated use Facebook in the United Kingdom. I also think it significant that the total electorate, those who voted in the referendum, was only 1,501,241 more than the total number of UK Facebook users.

Personally, I think the platform allowed itself to be used by Cummings and Vote Leave to reach and influence enough of the electorate, personally and specifically, to swing the vote their way. Facebook certainly took the money and ran the adverts without worrying about intention or means. I also think the picture is more complicated than simply targeting Facebook users with adverts that confirm an individual’s prejudices and trigger their fears. They also used targeted advertising to convince the apathetic or complacent, that leave could never win, nothing ever changes, so why bother voting at all. Turnout for the referendum was 72.2%, comparatively high when seen against the 2019 General Election at 67.3%. That’s a difference of 4.9%. Significant, in a conspiratorial kind of way, when you realise Vote Leave only won with a majority of 4%.

If you don’t believe me, and why would you, could you, should you, watch Dominic Cummings explain in his own words, “Why Leave Won the Referendum”. He gave this talk at the Ogilvy Nudgestock event in 2017. Nudgestock calls itself a festival of “behavioural science and creativity” that provides “science-led evaluation and optimization of nudge strategies, ideas and campaigns designed to change perception and behaviour”.

All of this sounds to me like psychological warfare, employed against the population of the United Kingdom, for political and economic gain.


Mark Zuckerberg reminds me of a line from Test Dept

I don’t know why, but whenever I see Mark Zuckerberg speak, I always think of a line by Test Dept.

The last track on their 1986 album The Unacceptable Face of Freedom, Corridor of Cells, contains the lyric that sums up the Web2 giant.

“Domestic fascism. Armed with a TV smile.”

Mark Zuckerberg is grilled by Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez

I have nothing but admiration for the likes of Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Carole Cadwalladr, and the determination needed to pull back the curtain on Facebook’s TV smile.

Facebook knew of Cambridge Analytica data misuse earlier than reported

Julia Carrie Wong in The Guardian reports “Facebook employees were aware of concerns about improper data-gathering practices” by Cambridge Analytica months before the Guardian first reported, in December 2015″.

The plot thickens like dehydrated honey on the chin of beetle.

Cambridge Analytica are the ones guilty of treason

Nico Hines reports in The Daily Beast, the “High Court in London heard on Monday that Cambridge Analytica was up to its old tricks from beyond the grave—by surreptitiously trying to halt investigations that could expose allegedly nefarious tactics before the company was shut down for good”.

The Daily Beast

There is a lot of talk from Leave claiming lies, betrayal, bias, even treason. I would argue every aspect of the thing Cambridge Analytica do, or did, is designed to serve individual interests against the will of the people.

To me Cambridge Analytica and its subsidiaries are the ones guilty of treason.

Parliament seizes cache of Facebook internal papers

Carole Cadwalladr reports in the The Observer “Parliament has used its legal powers to seize internal Facebook documents in an extraordinary attempt to hold the US social media giant to account after chief executive Mark Zuckerberg repeatedly refused to answer MPs’ questions”.

Another interesting piece in the unfolding puzzle that is the scandle surrounding Cambridge Analytica, Vote Leave, and Facebook.

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