Just because Cambridge Analytica tells its customers it can sway elections, it doesn't follow that they're any good at it

Originally published at: https://boingboing.net/2018/03/20/wanamakers-ghost.html


If they are so good at what they do then why didn’t they perform better due diligence of the so-called Sri Lankan “fixers” that Channel 4 put to task? I guess the Googles couldn’t flush them out so they were A-Ok.

Con men, smoke and mirrors. (ala “Lawyers, guns and money” :musical_note:)


The “Sri Lankans’” Facebook profiles seemed to be legit.

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I dunno - the argument here is either that CA is a little bet better or a little bit worse at “influence-per-dollar-spent” than anybody else out there that specializes in this stuff.

There’s not really any meat there, TBH.

What I think is more impactful is stepping back and looking at the toxic ecosystem that’s grown up around the Mercers, the Russian oligarchs, too many of the Silicon Valley technocrats, and the Republican Party. There’s ungodly amounts of dark money, worrisome influence, and all kinds of spycraft and evil dealings going on behind the scenes, and now we’re starting to hear about it.

Zuckerburg is indebted to at least one Russian billionaire who helped fund FB to the tune of at least $100 million. That alone suggests that there’s many other social media companies with mass influence that are financially incentivized to let the Russians get away with influencing our elections.

CA is straight-up saying that they’re actively compromising politicians and blackmailing them - to what end, we’re not sure, but almost certainly with the end goal of abusing their influence to compromise our elections from the administrative end as much as possible.

That’s where the meat is - there’s a massive, multi-pronged assault on the foundations of our democracy that’s being uncovered, and it’s implicating a lot of very wealthy and influential people, and we can’t let them get away with it unscathed. Because now that the “formula” is out there, it’ll be copied by others wholesale unless they know that it’s a losing model.


Psychographics is a perfect example of insider-knowledge bullshit, a go-to tool for advertising execs who are pitching potential clients.

Insider knowledge is useless hype, if you already know everything. I earn my living knowing things my clients COULD do-it-themselves. Or maybe they’ll screw it up, secure in the knowledge of their independence. Thank goodness some people value experience over rugged individualism, or I’d be out of a job!


These lowly scumbags are on my shit list.

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Like I’ve said before, don’t worry about whether necromancers can actually raise the dead to feast on their clients’ enemies’ living entrails. But do worry, quite hard, that there are people who mean to do that, and others who will pay money for it.


If Cambridge Analytica really worked, we’d be complaining about President Ted Cruz.

If Cambridge Analytica are sorcerers, then there's no problem with business as usual, and once we burn the witches, we can get back to the way things were, forever.
Obviously the most craven political forces are going to want to focus entirely on this specific company, the same way that people wanted to focus specifically on Enron: to provide a pat solution to a troubling realization about broader dynamics.

But I think the real thing that troubles a lot of people is not that Enron orchestrated a massive financial fraud scheme, but that we live in a world where that sort of thing is possible.

Whether or not Cambridge Analytica specifically has the killer psychographic app, highly manipulative psychological techniques are being tested on all of us using our infotech interfaces, and those techniques are available for sale to whoever can afford them.

Yes, this is basically just a description of the modern advertising industry, and maybe doesn’t actually indicate a paradigm shift in capability. But the capabilities which exist already are extremely fucking concerning, and should have been causing people to panic a while ago. Sometimes the sci-fi veneer of data science causes people to see the world in a more sinister light, but in this case it’s completely called for.


Link to several articles about Cambridge Analytica:

There is just a lot of non-partisan hate with Mr Cruz.

It’s the state wide vibe ban isn’t it? :eggplant:

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CA was involved in many elections in other countries and their clients were the US and UK governments.

But it didn’t work and therefore doesn’t matter, apparently. Can’t have it both ways, if it doesn’t work and doesn’t matter, then you can’t really complain about it not working and not mattering elsewhere.

They don’t have to be good at it if they can sway it in the slightest. All they have to do is sway it. Evil fucks.

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