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Cambridge Analytica Tentacles and Facebook.

If you haven’t seen the most recent episode oh the Cambridge Analytica story from ITN Channel 4, well, prepare yourself. This is where we start to connect all of the pieces with the Trump campaign.

Now, some of you may be asking, have any other candidates used these kinds of methods before? And I would have to say that all campaigns use data driven marketing to reach their target voters. That’s what creates those soft focus upbeat Clinton ads, the Uber cool Obama “Si Se Puede” ads and Bernie’s “Look for America” ads. They analyze the groups they want to appeal to and then craft a message that appeals to that demographic.

The problem with Cambridge Analytica is that it took a crude personality profile and ran a giant survey on Facebook. We can disagree with how useful the personality profile was but if you have been following any of my posts on Steve Hassan’s BITE model, indoctrination and techniques to shape a person’s behavior have been around for a long time and there were a flurry of studies in the wake of WWII that sought to understand how whole populations could be persuaded to do the unthinkable. Bob Altemeyer also has written extensively about the mindset of the authoritarian follower. Fox News is a constant source of fear and anxiety to its lower to middle class older viewers. There’s a reason for that. Fear, uncertainty and dread (FUD) works.

So Cambridge Analytica got their profiles and then made sure that their targets got their message, designed specifically for that person, in Facebook, on TV, on flyers. They sprinkled it like mustard seeds all over the place where it was never expected and then sat back and watched as people dropped their pretenses about being nice to people in other groups, donned their MAGA hats, and started chanting “lock her up” about Crooked Hillary.

I think the campaign that first showed how effectively it could be done was Obama’s. Those of us who were thrown off DailyKos when the Obama bots took over saw it happen in real time. Obama’s campaign also used Facebook data though on a smaller scale, and no personality test. But they didn’t really need the test when they had a lot of left wing blogs where they could test their pitches to a Democratic and liberal focus group. When these memes popped up on DailyKos, they were all about Hillary the War Hawk, Hillary the DLC member, Hillary the corporatist or neoliberal. And from all of that followed a lot of nasty primary season shenanigans that pushed Hillary out of the race and deprived her out of the floor vote she had earned (don’t want it to look too close on TV. That would ruin the illusion).

I saw Michelle Goldberg shift uncomfortably in her seat when Chris Hayes brought it up last night on All In. Oh, that was different. Because it was Obama. Everybody loved him. Um, after his scorched earth primary tactics in 2008 that left the Clintonistas battered or forced to convert under duress, deliberately alienating us from our party if we didn’t denounce Hillary as a corporate shill, war loving, racist? No, not all of us loved him.

And it was. Cambridge Analytica was a much more targeted and effective operation and it converged with what the Russians did and the media stupidly amplified it because I’m sure that even THEY were targeted with messages about how calculating, cold, devious, non-transparent and bitchily ambitious Hillary was and there’s nothing journalists loathe and envy more than a woman getting so much attention. The news business is all about journalism’s celebrities and she wasn’t giving them proper respect. So they would show her.

But let’s not forget that Obama did it first. And while most of the country saw a sunny, optimistic, aspirational symbol of civil rights triumph, the Hillary supporters of 2008 were subjected to a barrage of name calling, accusations of racism and deliberate mischaracterization of us as toothless, stupid, post menopausal idiots. Unfuckable women and therefore, unnecessary to listen to. It continues to this day.

Yes, Trump was worse. Far, far worse. Bigger, unethical, probably illegal, collusive, conspiratorial and possibly treasonous. Facebook should be punished for its amoral pursuit of profit, probably to satisfy shareholders and meet quarterly earnings. There a topic for an entirely different series of blog posts.

And let’s not forget that on top of violating a consent decree dating back to 2011, Facebook may have also violated election law by charging Clinton much more for its soft focus ads. It did this because Cambridge Analytica was so effective at generating clicks from its emotionally charged targets that it quickly had enormous amounts of ad volume on Facebook and the price of those ads dropped. So they were able to buy much more advertising at a much lower price than Clinton did. If I were a Congressman, I’d be livid that my opponent could carry that out and cost me so much more in the upcoming election. It wouldn’t matter what party that candidate was from. And now we can get an idea of what Jeff Flake types were up against. Because a Trump affiliated opponent would most likely have the Facebook lists and could target the desired constituency with ease and with a lot less campaign cash.

That might be why some Republicans have chosen to retire or sit quaking in their boots, not daring to take on the president. ITN Channel 4 might have done us all a big favor by showing us exactly what they may be up against.

But let’s not forget that Obama’s pilot experiment went there first in 2008 and many, many Clintonista Democrats will never forgive or forget.

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24 Responses

  1. I have finally forgiven Obama–or at least decided it’s not worth arguing about with the former Obots now, since apparently Hillary did one or the other of those (she accepted the position of Secretary of State)–but I wish he had been half as tough with the Rethuglicans as his campaign was with Hillary and her supporters.

    The 2008 Democratic presidential primaries answered the question: “Which is stronger in the USA, r@c!$m or $exi$m?”

    R@c!$m remains all too powerful in this country, as illustrated by the “victory” of Cheeto Benito, and also white cop after white cop after white cop getting away with murder–but the Malefactors of Great Wealth (aka McDucks) realized in 2008 that because the Chimperial Cheney Assministration had screwed the whole kennel of pooches, they could not sneak a Rethuglican back into the White House without rigging the elections beyond the point of plausible deniability.

    So, the McDucks–still mostly white males, lest we forget–had to accept either a black man or a white woman in the White House. Their choice tells us they are more $exi$t than r@c!$t.

  2. I have a tough time making the decision of which event got us to where we are today:

    1. Bush v Gore decision by Supreme Court.

    2. Obama winning the 2008 primary.

    Obviously we will never know, but if 1 had gone against Bush, maybe 2 would have never happened. I tend to blame Obama for Trump… but who knows.

    • All three are connected by the anti-Clinton campaign, of which Gore is the most prominent collateral damage. It crippled Bill’s effectiveness, and convinced just enough non-right-wingers to vote Rethug, or vote 3rd party, or (I think the most important group) not vote at all.

      In this country, right-wingers pay no penalty for lying.

    • Keep your eye on that Cambridge Analytica expose. We will be able to see how it works and what why Republicans are as quiet as they are. It needs to be dismantled and Facebook needs to be secured and prevented from allowing political operatives on the app. Or they need to charge everyone the same amount of money and let everyone have access to the same information.
      That’s what has to happen before Republicans gain control of their party. And it’s somethung they need to do. They need to be able to ask for help with this. And we should give it to them where possible without compromising our own principles. I suspect there is a lot of extortion involved as well. We see government differently. But we should also take into consideration that these people are human and some of them may have been coerced to take extremist positions.

    • I would put the source of our current nightmare to Rs hunting of Bill Clinton and his impeachment (for a blowjob) — can you compare the viciousness of that impeachment attempt with their silence today? They showed their true colors then and every election thereafter weakened the country further.

  3. Since the subject of tentacles came up: 😛

  4. I forgot this one yesterday:

    • Of course, Cheeto Benito is too stupid to be the Antichrist.

      Maybe his master, Putin…

  5. The Austin Bomber blew himself up, rather than surrender to the cops.

  6. 😈

  7. Happy Spring! (also cr@wd@d repellent) 😉

    4 original-character mikos enjoy the cherry blossoms.

  8. Excellent post and I like it whenever Obama is held accountable for his tactics in 2008 primary. Granted FB was not as powerful then as it is today, but he led the way in the ruthlessness of it all against Hillary and helped condition media more as if they needed more after all the decades worth of hunting the Clintons.

  9. From the WhatsApp guy:

  10. More of this…

  11. Rachel Maddow take on the whole manipulation by TDump through GA.
    worth watching…

  12. Jeez, it’s still snowing. It’s been snowing since last night. This is stupid.

  13. Note the date, 1/28/2017. She has had great instincts and perhaps sources. Her timing was perfect too in that when people were demoralized about the election outcome, she gave hope that the outcome may have been corrupted and that perpetrators were going to be caught. It was better to listen to her than lose hope/morale listening to other ‘scholars’ about autocracy coming to America.

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