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article imageOp-Ed: Trump's campaign based on Big Data? Yes. Good? No.

By Paul Wallis     Jan 24, 2017 in Politics
Cambridge - U.K. company Cambridge Analytica have taken credit for Brexit and the Trump win. The psycho-data manipulators of 2016 election, they’ve emerged as heroes of the Trump victory.
Cambridge Analytica compiled a large amount of psychographic information regarding American voters, including consumer habits, social media information like Facebook likes, etc. According to the Sydney Morning Herald, they compiled data on “every adult American voter” and managed the campaign on that basis.
Certainly explains the psychotic behaviour on Facebook and elsewhere, if true. The theory is that this information was used to target specific demographics and play to the hopes and fears of voters. It took a huge amount of data and processed it in to an election campaign.
You’ll note that this approach has nothing to do with actual policies or anything else. It was a form of marketing using Big Data, and obviously did succeed in targeting the lower levels of society. The divide between demographics on the Democrat and Republican sides is such that what works on one side doesn’t work at all on the other.
Cambridge Analytica, however, isn’t some obscure company of white-coat-wearing whizzbang ingénues. It has Steve Bannon from Breitbart on the board, and is backed by Robert Mercer, an American billionaire and serial Super PAC collector of some note. The company was originally working for Ted Cruz, another extreme right wing candidate, and then switched to Trump when Cruz’ campaign tanked.
The company states that it works “military disinformation” campaigns (propaganda) and the endearingly named cottage industry of “voter targeting”. Whether the U.K. goes broke as a result of Brexit, or World War 3 breaks out, presumably it’s all in a day’s work.
Big Brother, the idiot
I’m sure people won’t mind being manipulated. After all, what other reason could they have to exist, but to be exploited by super-rich billionaires and political parties? Even the theory of Big Brother, based on disinformation and psychological manipulation, was based on sinister manipulation, not sinister vacuousness.
The trashy side to this is that it also undercuts all the “us and them” stuff in the election. The bottom line doesn’t make great reading for the fanatics, either:
• All they did was say exactly what they knew people wanted to hear.
• How sincere can you be, when you’re just reading from a marketing script?
That will backfire, badly, sooner or later. People don’t like being played for suckers. They also don’t like being made to look like fools. They don’t like people messing with their heads, particularly by a “science” they don’t understand.
The good news? Cambridge Analytica will be the bad guys. The duly elected saints will take no responsibility, as usual.
This opinion article was written by an independent writer. The opinions and views expressed herein are those of the author and are not necessarily intended to reflect those of
More about Cambridge Analytica, Alexander Nix, Trump election 2016, Brexit, big data
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