So last week I gave you some tips on how to protect your data on Facebook. I also threw in a few asides on how I look at Facebook, the information it captures, and how it might have affected the 2016 election.
On The Media did a show about this last week. They interviewed Antonio García Martinez, a former product manager at Facebook who ran their ad targeting development, about what Cambridge Analytica might or may not have been capable of. He mentioned one of his tweets that summarizes my initial reaction to the story quite succinctly.
We have read and heard many theories about what was the one-thing-that-led-to-Trump: Comey’s initial announcement about the email investigation, Comey’s second announcement just before the polls opened, fake news!, the hours of free coverage the cable networks gave Trump (the most believable of the bunch,) Hillary’s (alleged) failure to reach out to people in the rust belt, Bernie not stopping his primary challenge soon enough, other things I must be forgetting, and now this.
Facebook ad targeting and Cambridge Analytica’s “psychographic modeling” are not as sophisticated as CA made it out to be. They were selling a product, and I know this is hard to believe, but they lied about what their software could do. It looks like the even Trump’s team of “the best people” didn’t believe it and gave it a pass.
Facebook’s data isn’t really that deep. It’s our personal information, and it’s worth protecting, but it’s just not as valuable as CA made it out to be.
According to Martinez, what Trump’s team really did with Facebook was exploit people’s timelines with clickbait. They got people to click on things with inflammatory rhetoric and “fake news.”
They also exploited Facebook’s ability to correlate lists of people gathered outside of the platform with users inside Facebook.
Did any of this win the election for them? No.
The interview is here. It’s worth a listen.
Let’s face it; there is no one thing that led to Trump in the White House. The groundwork was already there when he ran, and that’s what we need to look if we really want to start winning elections and eliminating what he represents.
The rest of the episode is worth a listen, as is the podcast most weeks.