First off, a confession: I am one of those “radical militant librarians” who objected to the invasions of privacy that were part and parcel of the Patriot Act (http://www.nytimes.com/2005/12/11/us/nationalspecial3/at-fbi-frustration-over-limits-on-an-antiterror-law.html). Which is to say, I am a dyed-in-the-wool liberal. And while many who come here have probably figured that out, overall I’ve kept a fairly low political profile on this blog.
That ends today. So please feel free to skip over any of my posts that are not of interest … I will give them an index label “Politics” so you can be forewarned. And if you are on the Kindred Spirits list and would prefer not to be associated with my particular brand of politics, just let me know and I’ll remove your link from the list.
Inspired by Dee Mallon over at her newly retitled blog Pattern and Outrage (https://deemallon.wordpress.com/2017/01/31/h-is-for-humor-c-is-for-courage) and Mo’s comment citing this article https://motherboard.vice.com/en_us/article/how-our-likes-helped-trump-win, I decided to put together a series of articles that have stuck in my mind over the past several months. You will note that some are mainstream media and some are not. Where possible, I’ve tried to corroborate facts, but the conclusions at the end are my own.
The first warning bell went off in my head when I read this New York Times
op-ed piece in November (https://www.nytimes.com/2016/11/20/opinion/the-secret-agenda-of-a-facebook-quiz.html
). In short, it pointed out how the Trump campaign used Facebook to win the election. This in particular was chilling: “One recent advertising product on Facebook is the so-called “dark post”: a newsfeed message seen by no one aside from the users being targeted. With the help of Cambridge Analytica, Mr. Trump’s digital team used dark posts to serve different ads to different potential voters, aiming to push the exact right buttons for the exact right people at the exact right times.”
Here’s what I’m getting at. I’m pretty sure that advisors such as Steve Bannon have more on their minds than winning an election. For instance, all that psychometric data collected by Cambridge Analytica in 2016 could now be used to send “dark posts” to individuals who would be inclined to identify people they think might be illegal immigrants. Which is not to say that those people actually are illegal, as the recent chaos at national airports over the Executive Order on immigration clearly demonstrated. But even if purported “illegals” were eventually cleared, their lives would be significantly disrupted.
Is this a wild-eyed conspiracy theory? Or have I connected some dots that need to be explored?
I fear that those halcyon days of the FBI having to go through legal protocols to obtain personal data are long gone. Because if it is indeed true that the Cambridge Analytica data will be exploited by the Trump administration, what other nefarious ends might be realized? And how would we ever know?