Cambridge Analytica, Facebook, Ten Days discussed on Fresh Air

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Literal campaign Cambridge Analytica collected personal data from tens of millions of facebook users and used it to target people susceptible to conspiracy stories and disinformation Christopher Wiley was the research director of Cambridge analytica before leaving in protest over the direction it had taken when he joined the company its goal was countering extremists extremists using social media to find potential converts the things that I was building you know originally for the defensive the democracy had been completely converted to really in my view attack our democracies while has written a new book and Ken Tucker Reviews the first solo album from Brittany Howard the lead singer of Alabama shakes my guest became a whistle blower exposing the role of the British voter profiling company Cambridge Analytica in the trump presidential campaign and the brexit campaign Christopher Wiley revealed how the company at harvested the information of tens of millions of facebook users and combine that with other data decorate psychological profiles and then use those profiles to target susceptible to disinformation racist thinking and conspiracy theories Cambridge Analytica then helped shape the disembarkation narratives and push them out while he also revealed Cambridge analytic has links to Russia while they had the documents and tapes back him up he'd served his Cambridge analytic as search director for a year and a half then quit in twenty fourteen disturbed by the direction it started taking after Steve Bannon became a major player in the company widely became the chief source for a year long investigation into Cambridge Analytica jointly undertaken by the British paper The Guardian and The New York Times Both papers published their stories on March seventeenth last year ten days later widely was called before parliament testify after that several U s US Congressional and Senate committees asked to talk with him within weeks the EU and more than twenty countries had opened inquiries into facebook social media and discipline mation while he has written a new book whose Title I can't say on the radio so I'll just call it mind F- Cambridge Analytica and the plot to break America Christopher Wiley Welcome to fresh air I let me Oh it's my pleasure I'd like to start with a brief overview of how Cambridge analytica figured into the trump campaign and we'll get into more detail about this later brick just so we have a basis of understanding of what what did the basis of Cambridge analytic is mark was essentially to take Large amounts of highly granular data about each individual voter in the United States urge bulk of that came from facebook it came from many sources and to look for patterns in that data to essentially infer different psychological attributes and from that to find target groups of people particularly on the fringes of society who would be more vulnerable to certain kinds of messages they focused on a lot on disinformation are they targeted people who are more prone to conspiratorial thinking and they use that data and they use based on social media more broadly to first identify those people and then engage those people and really begin to crafts in my view wasn't insurgency in the United States feeding them disinformation sometimes conspiracy theories in support of the trump campaign yes and more broadly the when Steve Bannon took over he wasn't just concerned about particular elections he followed sort of this notion of the art doctrine which is that politics exists downstream from culture so don't just focus on the day to day politics try to actually make an impact on injuring Asian culture because politics will just flow from that when you say when Steve Bannon took over he had a big role in Cambridge Analytica and then became campaign manager for for trump yes he did he he found us in in London he convinced the billionaire to acquire the company and then he the company into you know a set of tools that he'd be able to use to in effect manipulate certain segments of the American voter population so I want to talk about your contribution to this before you became a whistle blower so you want to work for a company called Seal Strategic Communication Laboratory raise what were they when you join what's their relationship to Cambridge Dental Annika young so I got a recruited to join a recent each team at seal group which at the time was a British military contractor Based in London most of its clients were various ministries offense in NATO countries and what we were looking at is how to use data online to identify people who be likely targets of different extremist groups and from that Try to understand impact how woods AH fairly extreme ideological message spread through different kinds of social networks and what could we do in order to mitigate its its effectiveness when Steve Bannon got introduced to the company he realized that a lot of that work could be inverted and rather then trying to mitigate an extremist insurgency in certain parts of the world he wanted to essentially catalyze one in the United States this one of your major contributions to Cambridge analytica which started off as SC L. Yeah so one of your major contributions was to find this technique of personality profiling that you thought could be applied to the clown of Work Cambridge Analytical was doing can you describe that personality profiling approach yeah so you know when you think about all of the things that you put online so whether it's you know you're what TV shows you like who are you know what's what movies you watch or what you listen to these are all little discreet clue news about sort of who you are as a person and you know originally when we were looking at this for defense purposes we want it's you figure out beyond what the military had already identified which was essentially young unmarried males with certain demographic characteristics what were this sort of psychological character mystics of those people that would make them more prone and more vulnerable to certain kinds of of messaging so that we can engage them beforehand that was based on a series of studies as many of which came out of the University of Cambridge that looked at essentially how particularly with facebook data you can quite accurately predict a person it's personality profile and from that if you can understand how a person thinks and feels engages in the world and what kinds of biases we have you can then figure out what's going to be most effective at engaging them in a particular objective so originally in some kind of counter extremism or mitigations strategy later when it became journalistic it essentially became identifying people who in the same way that you'd be looking for people who'd be more vulnerable old CEO Isis messaging people who were more prone co conspiratorial thinking or you know paranoid idea in effect it looked for the same kinds of people but rather than discouraging them from joining Isis it would be to encourage them to join the alright you had to figure out a way to harvest data that you could use to create personality profile so that you'd know who to target and a lot of the data came from facebook how to Cambridge Analytica get the data you know when the when the story blew up one of the things that bowl kind of often talked about is how it was a hack facebook or some kind of data breach and what actually happened was that facebook authorized the applications that came analytica ended up using to access the data the company engaged Professors at the University of bridge to create an application that then got put onto facebook where people would go and fill out personnel the inventories like surveys about you know who they are and their attributes but the way the AP words was that they wouldn't harvest the data of the person who responded survey but it would go into their profile and look at all of their friends and harvest all of their friends data as well so when you had one person fill out a survey by default they effectively consented by proxy for you know hundreds of other people simply because they were facebook friends with them so that scaled really quickly and at the time facebook the way facebook worked they allowed applications to have that feature they've since turned it off and rightfully so but at the time you could acquire a lot of data really quickly because with each respondent to that survey you'd get another sort of three hundred profiles with it in return fulfilling out the personality profile you were given like a couple of dollars or something yeah so some you know different kinds of people have different motivations for Philly out surveys so you know sometimes you would have a group of people who just would fill it out because they're bored they don't have anything to do or they just genuinely.

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