Just watched #TheGreatHack on #Netflix. What I appreciated about this #documentary on #Facebook and the whole #CambridgeAnalytica scandal, is that it's one of the few #privacy #documentaries to get that protecting personal data isn't just about not seeing personalized ads for stuff you're more likely to want. It's about protecting ourselves from mass psychological manipulation and behavior modification techniques. These are techniques that actually work *best* when people believe they don't.
They depend, though, on having enough personal and behavior data to accurately predict your behavior. Then the algorithms refine themselves by feeding you information and testing if they managed to get you to behave in the desired way.
Just keep testing and refining with enough data and enough people and voila, a democracy where the votes can be bought in large enough numbers that the results can be, too.
Remember, it's not just the ads. It's the content they're choosing to show you. Notice how platforms are moving away from chronological timelines to one's with black box methods where they choose your timeline items you see?
The weak point of this system is that it needs a constant flow of information about what you're thinking and doing.
The good news is that the required level of prediction to understand cause and effect of manipulation is much higher than currently achievable.
The bad news:
1: That doesn't keep them from trying and causing unexpected consequences.
2: States are getting more and more of that data, and they've got tried and tested methods to manipulate people ... physically if needed.
3: By surveying users in this way, is Silicon Valley legitimises surveillance states and undermines democracy.
"These are techniques that actually work *best* when people believe they don't."
...and as Goebbels noted, propaganda is most effective when people don't know it is even being political 😟
If we want to stop the manipulation, we first of all have to admit we are all vulnerable to being manipulated. Not everyone is willing to admit to this though 😞
Then, once people have been conned, they are even LESS likely to admit to being manipulated
Very true. As they noted in the documentary, many of the campaigns are specifically designed to just increase apathy in a specific demographic, often by campaigns which *don't* appear political...
Some of these manipulations are diabolically cunning:
A supposedly left wing (but secretly right wing) campaign where men were encouraged to not vote and instead they should "let women take the lead".
As these campaign ads were only shown to liberal men, all it really did was reduce the overall number of votes that liberal candidates recieved.
Yeah. That's kind of like an old but similar technique where you get someone to act as an information agent provocateur.
That is, put up a site / account claiming to be of the same beliefs as the group who opposes you. Then, they only spout the most extreme, easily disproven strawmen ideals of your opponent. You then market it to people who might join the opposition, who then see their whole concept as ridiculous because the parts of it they saw were (designed to be).
Yup. These techniques existed already, but it seems social media combined with hypertargeted ads are removing all the friction which kept them somewhat contained in previous decades.
@switchingsocial @Blort See this: the person who invented the retweet now regrets it: https://www.buzzfeednews.com/article/alexkantrowitz/how-the-retweet-ruined-the-internet
@switchingsocial @Blort Interesting idea: “MIT’s Rand suggested another idea: preventing people from retweeting an article if they haven’t clicked on the link. “That could make people slow down,” he said. “But even more than that, it could make people realize the problematic nature of sharing content without having actually read it.”
Yes. Now the manipulation has leaked out of explicit adverts and into our entertainment and the communication platforms we use to stay connected with friends and loved ones.
@Blort I agree 100%
I'm still watching it now but it's the bigger picture that counts here that's for sure. 👍🏻
@Blort Remember one thing: All those programs started in the 50s. Why do you think the documentary do not mention any company from that time? because they are the incumbents. The likes of Rand Corporation et al probably sponsored this documentary to kill the new players in their space.
Yeah, I agree, though I'd argue this has been going on almost as long as recorded media. Sure, it was likely produced by orgs with their own agenda. Personally I would have liked more mentioned of Cambridge Analytica being a symptom of monopolistic surveillance capitalism and not just "one bad apple".
I just found it refreshing to see privacy analysis go beyond the usual "It's all for more relevant ads" talking point, and mention mass behaviour modification, even if still incompletely.
Actually, I just came across this article (on VIce of all places) which sums up what I was just saying nicely::
@Blort Calling it surveillance capitalism falls short by painting a target on silicon valley only, in my view.
Missing ideas which were on wallstreet literal playbooks since the 20s. Edward Bernays ideas for example, which worked fine with broadcast (e.g. media, culture) and little to no feedback (e.g. surveillance), and won elections just the same.
PS: I frivolously consider Vice a NRA honey pot :D They publish US-left and US-right content. But the only thing that is always for, is guns.
I see your point although I feel that the problem has exploded well out of the bounds of one location (even if many of it's most publicly palatable prophets originated there).
Perhaps the phrase "surveilance as a tool to further power consolidation of incumbent power structures via psychological manipulation" would be more accurate than "surveillance capitalism". It just doesn't fit as neatly into a 500 character toot. 🤔
Now back to reading up on the virtues of my beloved NRA... 😜
@Blort My point was that a documentary on those topics could just call it Capitalism.
...Like anything on gulags call it an effect of communism
@Blort It certainly made me dislike brittany kaiser. The level of privilege this person exudes just made me sick.
@Blort I see it a hard problem that some good people seem to be missing the point. The problem is not data gathering or analysing, the problem is illegal data transfer and use. While it sounds ultimately good to prevent data gathering it doesn't work: people do want the results of the data analisation. The fight shall be centered on limited data gathering, anonymisation and ultimately controlling data use, which is where #EU is heading. IMHO.
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