27 July, 2021

Digital Falsities To Prime Likes

Cambridge Analytica caused quite a kerfuffle when it was outed by whistleblowers on its questionable tactic of snagging 50 million profiles from FB

The Signs
The lobby of the London building of Cambridge Analytica
Photograph by Getty Images
Digital Falsities To Prime Likes

Using big data analytics to gauge the sentiment or sway potential voters is not wrong. Seeding fake news, priming platforms with fake profiles, gaming algori­thms and, definitely, stealing profile data is wrong. There is a touch of farce to what is already becoming a broad comedy in this evo­lving story of Cambridge Analytica ‘stealing’ data and hel­ping win an election. Let’s look at the actors in this piece: UK-based data analytics firm Cambridge Analytica, Facebook, a ring of secretive investors and a winning Presidential poll.

On the face of it, the culprit—it seems to everyone—is Cambridge Analytica that illegally used data sourced from a legitimate Facebook app data that profiled users and their friends creating a database of 50 million individuals. Yet, you can’t but marvel at how Cambridge Analy­tica changed voter perceptions by using just a small subset of Facebook’s data. The question everyone is asking is how they just did it. It was simple, really. On its initial profile dump, the company...

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