- Date published:
12:04 pm, February 26th, 2018 - 70 comments
Categories: democracy under attack, elections, facebook, International, Media, Politics, Propaganda, tech industry, the praiseworthy and the pitiful - Tags: aggregateIQ, cambridge analytica, facebook, fbi
From Macedonia to the San Fransisco Bay, clickbait political sites are cashing in on Trumpmania – and they’re getting a big boost from facebook. – wrote The Guardian back in August 2016.
In November 2016, the Washington Post ran with “This is how facebook’s fake news writers make money.”
And also in November 2016, The New York Times got embedded Inside a fake news sausage factory – “This is all about income”
Post US election, a Mr. Latsabidze from Tbilisi told a NYT reporter –
“If Hillary had won, it would be better for us,” he said. “I could write about the bad things she was going to do,” he said. “I did not write to make Trump win. I just wanted to get viewers and make some money.”
If you read the links, you will see it said time and again that setting up a web site jam-packed with ads that pay the site owner on a per click basis, and getting traffic to that site by way of outrageous posts made to facebook, is an easy (and profitable) thing to do. It’s also clear that some, but not all, operators of such sites wrote unique pieces rather than trawling wordpress or wherever for some “profitably clickable” piece to send out on social media
Upscaling and better organising all that’s covered in the three mainstream articles I’ve linked to would merely enhance the money generating capacity of such schemes. And just like with the one or two person operations, fake facebook IDs would also be used by a larger operation to push posts further into “facebook land” where “believers” would then get directed to advert heavy sites set up for all that ad click revenue.
And that’s not a minor detail. Clickbait pieces are preaching to the choir and the trick is merely to successfully hook into the largest choir. As such, clickbait pieces don’t shape opinions or change minds – they reaffirm general believes or perceptions. So if your largest choir hates on Hillary Clinton, all that’s required is a piece that massages that hate by way of ridicule or outrageous baseless claims – it’s the emotive, not the cerebral that counts.
Anyway, here’s the Indictment served by Robert Mueller against
Cambridge Analytica and AggregateIQ the Internet Research Agency this month for being “engaged in operations to interfere with [US] elections and political processes.”
If you read through the indictment, there is nothing in relation to social media allegations that isn’t just par for the course – nothing that isn’t indulged in by individuals and groups of people the world over in search of a quick buck.
But the same can’t be said of Cambridge Analytica and AggregateIQ. They have trawled personal data from, for example, facebook and used that data to then target adverts at people in order to influence their perceptions. As the Guardian reported back in March of 2017
The UK’s privacy watchdog is launching an inquiry into how voters’ personal data is being captured and exploited in political campaigns, cited as a key factor in both the Brexit and Trump victories last year.
So why, I wonder, is there a whole lot of hoo-ha about a company from St Petersburg running clickbait for ad revenue (that’s in line with what thousands of others do), and yet barely a squeak about a London based company that’s dedicated to mining huge amounts of personal information and using it to shift public opinion? Where’s that indictment?
The companies are known. Their locations are known. Their clients are known. Their activities are known. So why the relative silence on a foreign company and known individuals known to have “engaged in operations to interfere with [US] elections and political processes.”?