“One believes things because one has been conditioned to believe them.”
Reading this post may disturb you and motivate you to delete your Facebook as well. If you haven’t watched the film “The Great Hack” on Netflix already, I highly recommend that you do! It brings to light how the rich and powerful have been manipulating impressionable people in our societies through social media and data mining, particularly through Facebook! Now, I can’t help but feel that Facebook is just utterly corrupt and bad for the world. However – let’s get in to the details!
The Great Hack
Spoiler Alert: Not everyone has the time to be able to devote an hour and a half to watching this documentary, but the information in this film is so important and valuable, that I am absolutely compelled to write about it. I think the word needs to be spread about the dangers of this sort of manipulative behavior with powerful people using social media, because it risks everything humanity has worked so hard to build, including our very democracies.
So, What’s The Film About?
This documentary shows decisively how Cambridge Analytica and Facebook have been responsible for some of the polarized ideologies that we see today, including some great changes in the world, such as Trump’s successful 2016 campaign and Brexit. Cambridge Analytica worked hard to make both of these fronts a success after being hired by very wealthy conservatives to ensure that their campaigns succeeded.
Originally Cambridge Analytica’s parent company, the SCL group, was used as a propaganda machine by the US military to alter the thoughts and behaviors of the populations they were at war with during the invasions of both Iraq and Afghanistan.
Here is a quote from the SCL group’s website, “For over 25 years, we have conducted behavioural change programmes in over 60 countries & have been formally recognised for our work in defence and social change.”
How does it affect us in developed countries?
Anyways, after being used in the military to influence elections and behaviors in adverse territories for years, the company finally turned around and decided to start a smaller company to assist in elections back home. How they were able to do this is very disturbing, and Facebook had been an amazing asset to the company’s efforts overall because of the surplus of data that it offered.
Basically, the company had designed an app which would gather information from users on Facebook after the permissions were granted to use said app. When the app was granted permission, it would not only gather information on the user granting the permission, but all of their friends on Facebook as well! In this way, it mined data on every single user over a long period of time.
After it had achieved this goal, they created something akin to a personality profile for every person in the country. Then they would place each person into separate categories based on their tendencies and preferences. The people that Cambridge Analytica were most interested in, were the small group of people who were very impressionable and walking the middle line between sides in elections. They called these people “The Pursuadables”. They were often young people who had not decided for themselves yet what was right or wrong, so they were groomed for the future!
After identifying the pursuadables in a country, they would hammer them with advertisements and propaganda to push them in the direction of whatever belief they wanted them to have. For example, during the Trump campaign in the United States, impressionable users were overwhelmed with pro-Trump and anti-Hillary ads and fake propaganda. They would focus most of their energy on the states that were liable to swing one way, or another. In this fashion, American democratic results were much more easier to predict and influence!
Was Facebook Aware of All of This?
Absolutely, in fact, they did everything in their power to cover up the scandal once it had begun to reach the public spotlight. It’s also believed that the data is still out there and being used by powerful people to tailor future propaganda campaigns for their personal benefit. Our governments are not ignorant to this fact either and it’s why Facebook recently has been fined a jaw-dropping 5 billion dollars by The Federal Trade Commission in the United States, and the legal battles are not about to end for the company.
What Can We Do About This?
The only thing that we can really do about this, is let our voices be heard that this is not acceptable! Boycott the social media outlets that are selling your data to the highest bidders, if you are able to and most importantly, educate our young humans and impressionable minds about the dangers of social media and believing everything that they see online! Not only that, but the fact that social media may soon become a threat to our personal freedom and legitimate democracies.
What are your thoughts? Have you seen the documentary yet?
Have I missed anything?
Comments and thoughts down below!