The article published on the online news portal OFFNews discusses various aspects including psychological ones of the Analytica case. The author Maja Mladenova presents all the factual background of the scandal through the Guardian investigation of the personal career of Christopher Wiley. She refers to the Trump’s adviser Steve Bannon’s sentence “I invented the weapon for psychological wars” and considers it may turn out to be the key to the most colossal affair with misuse of personal data in human history.
Has a 28-year-old IT genius traveled through history by developing a personal data analysis tool suspected of having played a key role in the occurrence of two people considered by many to be ridiculous – the vote for Brexit and the election of Trump for US President? – asks the author.
Over a year, several major Western media, including the British editions “Guardian” and “Observer”, earmarked great resources to investigate Cambridge Analytica. Until recently, its name has been almost unknown, but if doubts are proven, it will be synonymous with the biggest known abuse of personal data. Futuristic scenarios for mass identity management and the impact of key processes may not be in the future, but have happened – at least, according to the investigators, according to which, thanks to the data management of about 50 million facebook users, the Cambridge Analytica company managed to influence both of the most important events for 2016 – the UK’s exit vote for the EU and Trump’s entry into the White House. Who and how it helped to do this, “Gardian” answers in his investigation. It tells the story of 28-year-old Christopher Wiley, a data analyst who worked for Cambridge Analytica and who was hired to work for Trump’s headquarters during his campaign.
In 2014, Christopher Wiley is a 24-year-old Canadian who has an idea that led to the company’s creation. It analyzes data and is developing so much that, according to the investigators, it was the key factor during the two important votes on the island and over the ocean. At that time, 2014, Wiley worked for Steve Bannon’s news channel Breitbart. The two convinced billionaire Robert Merser, who is a Republican donor, to invest in creating Cambridge Analytica. Its purpose is to process large masses of data from social networks and carry out “information operations” with them, later providing their services to the US campaign. The brain of the company is Wiley, now 28 years old.
In 2017, he left the company, and a journalist of the Guardian was associated with him. Steve Banon is now Trump’s chief strategist. Investigating reporter finds Christopher Wiley in Canada. He is scared, suffers from guilt. The subsidiary of Cambridge Analytica, SCL, has already won contracts with several state offices and is applying for a pentagon contract. Wiley has literally gone into panic, writes Carole Cadwalladr. “The company has created psychological profiles of 230 million Americans, and now wants to work with the Pentagon, we talk about Nixon on steroids,” says Wiley.
He shows the reporter files that indicate that the same campaign is responsible for leaking to WikiLeaks the emails of Hillary Clinton for which she was investigated.
The affair around Cambridge Analytica is yet to grow. It has already been called an “information warfare,” while Christopher Wiley, meanwhile, presents an insight into the events that led to Facebook hacking and turning it into a theatrical scene for military action. Analysts say the result is an attack on the democratic process in the United States.
While doing a post-graduate study of fashion trends, Wiley has come up with a plan to gather information about multiple facebook users and use this data to create profound psychological and political profiles for these people. These data should then be used to target a customized ad’s political ad.
“We Broke Facebook,” says Wiley. He admits he did this on the orders of his boss Steve Bannon. Asked, can you say that in practice they have hacked the largest social network, he replies: “I thought all this was completely legitimate.”
At the moment, Zuckerberg’s company denies anyone has so much data to their users.
However, Wiley shows documents proving that between June and August 2014, 50 million people have collected data on Facebook. The fact is that he has a letter from a Facebook attorney who states that this has been done illegally.
Meanwhile, Cambridge Analytica is being investigated on both sides of the Atlantic, and the consequences are still unpredictable.
”An interesting test on Facebook? Be careful!” Mladenova warns us.
The author provides the interesting and frightening at the same time fact that researchers at the University of Cambridge are starting work on a project that studies individuality, giving it a numerical dimension. Every day, millions of users are tempted to fill in an interesting cue or facebook test. For example, which friend would become your ideal partner, which is the ideal country for you, how it would look on the cover of a fashion magazine, etc. The catch is that to see the result, you have to give access to your data. That’s exactly what happened in 2007 when the myPersonality test of character was released and the users were struggling to do it and share it. 40% of them agreed to give access to their data to tell them how open, conscientious, extracurricular, controversial, and neurotic. Perfect way to quantify psychological data just against a Like in Facebook! Another similar test, “You are what you like,” showed, for example, that people who do not like Israel are fans of NIKE shoes and love KitKat. Finally, half seriously called the “Operation KitKat” study.
”The power of this type of information gathering was quickly recognized by the military and the government” Mladenova explains.
The big question raised is HOW this could have happened. How did Banan and Wiley’s company collect information from millions of profiles? With the help of a Cayenne scientist, Alexander Cogan, they put on the market the tool developed at the university. Cogan had no scruples for his marketing use and managed to bypass the co-authors of the project. He has run two tests in which people agree for a fee to participate in a character survey. At the end of both tests of the application “this is my digital life”, participants give permission to access their facebook affiliates. This is how they recruit the first 320,000, which inadvertently give access to an average of 160 profiles, none of whom suspect anything. In a course of weeks, the “profiled” information profiles are millions.
And the next question is “Was this legal?”.
Cogan was authorized to collect information on this path for research purposes only. Its collection for a market and other purpose was not authorized, and under British law the sale of personal data to third parties is a crime if done without their consent.
“Facebook could see what was happening,” says Wiley. Their security protocols were triggered by Cogan’s application when it began to extract a huge amount of data, but apparently Cogan explained that it was for academic use. And they seem to have said “OK”.
”The data thus collected becomes the basis for everything that will happen next. The results are clear, the consequences are still ahead”, concludes Mladenova.
Мозъкът зад оръжието за психологически войни, донесло победа на Тръмп и Брекзит.
Представете си Никсън на стероиди – така 28-годишният IT гений описва последствията от инструмента си за манипулиране на обществото.
March 19 2018.
The information is prepared by the team of the COMPACT project.
COMPACT is a Coordination and Support Action funded European Commission under framework Horizon 2020.
The objective of the COMPACT project is to increase awareness (including scientific, political, cultural, legal, economic and technical areas) of the latest technological discoveries among key stakeholders in the context of social media and convergence. The project will offer analyses and road maps of related initiatives. In addition, extensive research on policies and regulatory frameworks in media and content will be developed.
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