Does anyone understand this Cambridge Analytica / Facebook thing? I think I've figured it out, and if it's what I think, it pegs my Stink-O-Meter!
It seems a few years ago Facebook began prohibiting companies from secretly mining information from Facebook users for commercial purposes. They would, however, allow member mining for academic purposes. That's when the geeks and financial backers of what became Cambridge Analytica combined efforts with a British academic who had a waiver to mine Facebook accounts and began their covert invasion of our privacy.
They offered an app to Facebook users whereby they could get a personality profile of themselves, and the offer was accepted by 270,000+/- people. What they didn't realize was that Cam Anal (appropriate acronym) also gained access to all their friends, and their friend's friends, and their friend's friend's friends, etc. They could then see how many "likes" and "angry" responses they left on which stories, and over time establish a profile of them all. For example, if someone consistently "liked" stories on gun control or immigration reform, they were deemed liberal. "Liked" views on ICE roundups or our terrible trade deficits were deemed conservative.
Eventually Cam Anal *snicker* developed a very good idea of what 40-50 MILLION Americans thought about various issues. They were able to micro-analyze individual towns and even precincts.
I remember seeing one from a veteran who told of how Donald Trump's Tower Air once sent a plane to pick up stranded soldiers in the Mideast after the Gulf War, and how he will always be grateful to Trump for his kind gesture. Knowing something about the airline biz, my BS meter shot up. I checked it out and found it was totally false. Trump never had an interest in Tower Air at all. He did own the short-lived Trump Shuttle, but they never transported soldiers home from overseas. (You can read about it for yourself here.)
By using tricks like this they were able to identify disgruntled / undecided voters in key battleground states like Pennsylvania, Michigan, and Ohio in particular, and flip (some of) these historically Democratic voters to Donald Trump in the general election. Cam Anal determined what they wanted to hear, and then put out fake news stories to pull them in.
The plot thickens: enter the conspiracy theorists. Remember a few months ago when Special Counsel Robert Mueller indicted 13 individuals and several companies in Russia for interfering in our 2016 election? They were accused of planting fake stories on a micro-level, much of it aimed at the same voters in PA, MI, and OH that Cam Anal / Trump were also targeting. How did they know which micro-level voters to target unless they were receiving guidance from Cam Anal / Trump? If that connection can be made by Mueller, that's the collusion smoking gun he's been looking for.
Evidence suggests Facebook knew of this privacy violation several years earlier and did nothing about it. Cam Anal says they deleted all this illegally obtained information long ago, but now a whistle blower, one of the original founders of the company, says not true. He says that personal info WAS the company. Without that, they would have nothing to offer to potential customers.
Gee thanks, Facebook!