Sunday, March 18, 2018

Throw Out All Your Algorithms.


Nevermind the never ending NYT stories from Maggie Haberman et al. about the mangled machinations behind the mad king's Twittmachine feed.

Because this, from the Guardian's Carol Cadwalldr, is the thing we ALL need to be paying attention to:

The first time I met Christopher Wylie, he didn’t yet have pink hair. That comes later. As does his mission to rewind time. To put the genie back in the bottle.

By the time I met him in person, I’d already been talking to him on a daily basis for hours at a time. On the phone, he was clever, funny, bitchy, profound, intellectually ravenous, compelling. A master storyteller. A politicker. A data science nerd...


...Or, as Wylie describes it, he was the gay Canadian vegan who somehow ended up creating “Steve Bannon’s psychological warfare mindfuck tool”...


...Last month, Facebook’s UK director of policy, Simon Milner, told British MPs on a select committee inquiry into fake news, chaired by Conservative MP Damian Collins, that Cambridge Analytica did not have Facebook data. The official Hansard extract reads:

Christian Matheson (MP for Chester): “Have you ever passed any user information over to Cambridge Analytica or any of its associated companies?”

Simon Milner: “No.”

Matheson: “But they do hold a large chunk of Facebook’s user data, don’t they?”

Milner: “No. They may have lots of data, but it will not be Facebook user data. It may be data about people who are on Facebook that they have gathered themselves, but it is not data that we have provided.”

Two weeks later, on 27 February, as part of the same parliamentary inquiry, Rebecca Pow, MP for Taunton Deane, asked Cambridge Analytica’s CEO, Alexander Nix: “Does any of the data come from Facebook?” Nix replied: “We do not work with Facebook data and we do not have Facebook data.”

And through it all, Wylie and I, plus a handful of editors and a small, international group of academics and researchers, have known that – at least in 2014 – that certainly wasn’t the case, because Wylie has the paper trail. In our first phone call, he told me he had the receipts, invoices, emails, legal letters – records that showed how, between June and August 2014, the profiles of more than 50 million Facebook users had been harvested. Most damning of all, he had a letter from Facebook’s own lawyers admitting that Cambridge Analytica had acquired the data illegitimately...



So, what did they do with the profiles?

The young Mr. Wylie explains...

If you want in-depth  analysis and (mostly, I think) algo-free commentary make sure you read (and bookmark) Marcy Wheeler.
Couldn't happen/hasn't already happened here?....The MoS explains why you might want to think again.
And on that other thing I've been blathering on about recently....If Ontario had prop-rep would the entire country be concerned about the good Mr. Ford's political future at the moment?
Finally, Jody Paterson explains why, for her at least, it is difficult not to wonder about motives and long held beliefs when it comes to the recent change of heart writing of Martyn Brown in the G Straight...It's hard not to conclude that she has a point.



Lew said...

I much prefer Mr. Wylie’s “healthy dose of skepticism” and courage in describing his past endeavours to Mr. Brown’s retrograde amnesia.

RossK said...

Well said Lew.

(Not that I am convinced that Mr. Wylie himself is a completely reliable narrator. Instead, I'm putting my money on the actual paper and data that the Guardian's Ms. Cadwalldr has seen)


Mr. Beer N. Hockey said...

Thanks for drawing my attention to Jody’s look at Brown.

e.a.f. said...

well about a year or more ago, I read they could figure out, from a person's Facebook, they were going to leave their spousal unit, approx. 6 months prior to doing so. At the time I thought, well if they can do that, they can figure out a whole lot more, including how to manipulate a lot of other things. Then there are the writings of Noah Chomsky and others like him, which always gave me a healthy avoidance of things such as Facebook.

The data mining and using it in Trump's campaign or any others doesn't surprise me a bit. Now we just have to figure out how we as a society are going to deal with it both here in Canada and abroad. Trump and his gang most likely already have, along with their friends in Russia.

e.a.f. said...

Jody Paterson points are good. Martyn Brown, changing like that, never bought it. Unless he had a stroke or a head injury not buying the "new boy" routine. He was there for all of Campbell's b.s.

Lets wait awhile and see where he goes next. as Mother used to say, a leopard doesn't change its spot. Perhaps he is waiting for the next political animal wannabe he can control.. wonder if he'll wind up working for the green party some day????? hey this is B.C. and all sorts of wonderfully weird things can happen.

Jon Ghun said...

Obama's Former Campaign Director Makes Bombshell Claim: Facebook Was "On Our Side"

"They allowed us to do things they wouldn't have allowed someone else to do because they were on our side."