politics

My fight against Big Data’s attempts to brainwash me

There are three very provocative things to reveal in this blog post, and each one of them is going to make you think I’m crazy. Here we go:

  1. Your Facebook feed is being used as a tool to brainwash you

  2. I’ve created a tool to help you defeat the efforts to brainwash you

  3. But now the brainwashers have discovered my tool and they have sinisterly admitted to me that they are monitoring me more closely than ever before

Now before you accuse me of being a tin-foil hat wearing, conspiracy theorist, I’d like you to hear me out, because I’ve got proof of all of the above statements. Scientific, properly-sourced proof. Not “some guy told me on info-wars” fake news proof. Real proof. Just keep an open mind as we proceed, and remember that it’s not paranoia if someone really is out to get you.

Let’s begin:

Point 1: Your Facebook feed is being used as a tool to brainwash you:

Recently, there was a Guardian article  that made the rounds, describing efforts by a company known as Cambridge Analytica to influence voters in the UK to vote to leave the EU, and Americans to vote for Donald Trump.

The company works by mining Facebook feeds and other social media information from every voter they can find, and then using the information to build a complex psychological profile of them based on their posts and on what they had “liked” that other people had posted. They also created and conducted psychological tests on a grand scale, to compare their data with psychological profiles of voters. According to the New York Times, the company claims to have “as as many as 3,000 to 5,000 data points” on virtually every single American citizen of voting age – information on everything from health issues to purchasing histories.

This information may seem useless, but it’s compared to other psychological tests to build a surprisingly accurate “psychometry” about you.  According to one article, this kind of information can be used to get to predict things about you and what influences you – better than even your closest friends or your spouse could manage.

All those Facebook likes are converted into data that is then used to target the voters that can be most easily influenced and persuaded. They are pummelled with fake news stories and “dark posts,” which are bits of content auto-generated just for you, based on your profile. Every day, without realising it, you are generating data and contributing to your own brainwashing.

But there is a way to resist. To fight back even.

Point 2: I’ve created a tool to help you defeat the efforts to brainwash you

I have indeed created an anti-brainwashing Facebook page:  https://www.facebook.com/DoTheWrongThing/

The page is filled with nonsensical and politically self-contradictory things for you to “like” to throw off their algorithms. For example, if liking Mel Gibson correlates to being a conservative and bigot, what exactly will liking the 2000 Mel Gibson-starring feminist rom-com “What Women Want” do to their psychometry templates?

Or how will it affect your profile if you’re a fan of trailer-trash snacks like Cheetos, but also exclusive European private bank Coutts?

The goal of this page is to confuse and spoil their complex algorithms, and it seems to work. There  are more than a dozen seemingly random “like-able” items for you to choose from as you embark upon your quest to game the system.

How do I know that it works? Because Big Data has already noticed my efforts.

Point 3: But now the brainwashers have discovered my tool and they have sinisterly admitted to me that they are monitoring me more closely than ever before

One of the items I posted on my anti Big Data page, was a link to “like” Cambridge Analytica, the company mentioned above that is at the centre of all this madness – this way you could let them know you were watching them as they watched you.

But unfortunately, I made a huge mistake in my fledgling campaign – I accidentally posted the link directly on Cambridge Analytica’s own facebook page instead of on my anti-big data page.

Within 3 minutes they let me know that now, they know what I’ve been trying to do. Here’s a screen capture, so you can join me through the looking glass:

The Empire Strikes Back.

 

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1 thought on “My fight against Big Data’s attempts to brainwash me

  1. Sheep: In my marketing class I implore my students to recognize the influence of social media as it is really a marketing tool. A tool to influence and ultimately control their decision making behavior. I appreciate your mission here.

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