Taking a break from our War On Drugs, Cam wanted to talk about a few current news items, in particular, Cambridge Analytica, Putin’s election, and the Austin “bomber”. Welcome to Uncle Cam’s Corner.
Theme music: Holy Deep by The Passion HiFi
I’m not fully settled on the whole CA/FB/campaign problem, but have a few thoughts that I’ve been ruminating on: 1) The researcher’s app accessed about 200K people’s who authorized the data access. Yet they have data for 50M, after two months of harvesting. That 48M people’s s data was gathered without giving consent: phone call metadata, substantive content of DMs. That’s access substantively rivaling the NSA. Sadly, my internet hygiene is subverted by any friend who can’t help but learn which Harry Potter house best suits their personality. Public sentiment is deserved because this is the first among a growing number of known-but-ineffectively-handled matters. FB’s first response is to deny problems until it’s later learned that they were aware of problems and dishonest about size/scope. 2) Sure it wasn’t CA or FB that scraped the data, it was a researcher who sold it (unethically in my opinion). In my mind, since FB collects/retains this data to such an invasive degree, there’s a problem because it makes itself a rich target by design. We are relatively lucky because Zuckerberg leans toward principled. Laws are one way to account for future business model creep, or ethical creep. 3) [Before writing my final point a couple definitions: I’m using use “liberal” to mean based in law; and “democratic” to mean forming policy to directly address public will.] The difference between UK vs RU actors, where election influence is concerned & the legalities/usefulness of sanctions: broadly, RU is democratic leaning with “flexible” liberalism. You can really only get justice via the proxy of sanctions. Mafia-like organizing gets the message when their turf & $$ is hit. UK is liberal with eroding democratic power. We are in legally based treaties so we don’t need to jump directly to sanctions. We have legal means to seek redress. We can also rely on the stability of the UK legal system if we choose to go after a non-state actor.
I enjoyed the podcast, but I think this is one of those topics that would be served better by interviewing an expert. A number of questions were raised: What was the British government’s involvement with CA? What laws were broken? Did the Russian disruption of the US election resemble their operations in other countries? To what extent do political advertisements and propaganda actually influence elections? These are all excellent questions. These questions have answers, and it would be interesting to hear the perspective of an investigative journalist, an election law expert, a specialist on Russian psy-ops, or a political scientist who researches voting behavior.
I agree. We might do that at some point. Maybe we should do a miniseries on electoral interference?
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