OK people, we are going to keep this reading list brief. It is also all on this silly Cambridge Analytica-Facebook-maybe the Russians-made everyone vote Trump story.
Now, to be clear, I am not defending data breaches, or Cambridge Analytica (mainly because they have a really stupid name) or indeed Facebook, which I have known to be evil for at least four years, but this is just another attack on the outcome of the US Presidential election.
The Federalist has a good piece here.
First, to point out the obvious: ‘You don’t have to be on Facebook. You don’t have to use Twitter. You don’t have a constitutional right to play FarmVille without answering some questions. You don’t get free stuff. The very existence of these tech companies is predicated on mining data so that they, or third parties, can sell you things.’ Exactly.
Further, ‘Most of all, so what if voters were being “targeted?” Part of living in a free society means being bombarded by messages we don’t like. The entire Facebook/Russiabot scare is predicated on the notion that people don’t have free will. It’s only once we start micromanaging the information Americans consume that we begin undermining choices.
‘Of course people shouldn’t get their news from Facebook. And a reliable Fourth Estate which reports without bias to help Americans navigate through this messy contemporary digital life would be helpful. But the Cambridge Analytica story is just another example of how it fails.’
The National Review have their take here.
The current climate is this: ‘Silicon Valley is working with its media and governmental critics to limit the damage to the center-Left going forward. You can see the dynamic in the way that the media generates a moral panic out of stories about how Brexit and the Trump election happened, and the way Silicon Valley responds.
Fake news becomes a problem, and Silicon Valley responds by hiring progressive journalists as censors. I mean “fact-checkers”. You can see it in the demonetization of YouTube videos. Or in the new sets of regulation being imposed in European countries that deputize the social-media networks themselves as an all-seeing social censor.’
We finish with the Spectator and their fancy USA edition. Freddy Gray does an excellent job of explaining the double standards between Republican and Democrat victories here.
Gray also says, ‘The more interesting – though less Hollywood – accusation about Cambridge Analytica is that, far from being masters of the new data universe, they are British “snake oil salesmen” who essentially repackaged and flogged well-established techniques to a desperate Trump campaign.’
I am so grateful to these publications for doing all this hard work so I don’t have to.