Obama manipulated Facebook users to win elections | Trump Campaign Cambridge Analytica Fallout

Obama manipulated Facebook users to win elections | Trump Campaign Cambridge Analytica Fallout

January 16, 2020 0 By Peter Engel


If you ever wondered whether the coverage
of the Cambridge Analytica Orwellian nightmare by the mainstream media seems to be way too
focused on Trump, your senses aren’t lying. Media are hypocritical. Obama did almost the same thing in 2012 and
it’s probably the reason that saved him against Romney. No way! Right? Obama was way more popular! Well, if he didn’t manipulate those Facebook
youngsters under 29 that didn’t really want to turn out, Romney might have got it. Just the fact Obama used good artificial intelligence
and Romney didn’t made all the difference. It seems that history repeated itself 4 years
later and we are only learning about it when it’s already over. We have a story by Times from 2012 kind of
celebrating Obama’s genius for daring to open up the Pandora box into the hell of totalitarianism. And it’s just as terrifying as Trump’s
scandal with Cambridge Analytica. In the final weeks before Election Day, a
scary statistic emerged from the databases at Barack Obama’s Chicago headquarters:
half the campaign’s targeted swing-state voters under age 29 had no listed phone number. They lived in the cellular shadows, effectively
immune to traditional get-out-the-vote efforts. For a campaign dependent on a big youth turnout,
this could have been a crisis. But the Obama team had a solution in place:
a Facebook application that will transform the way campaigns are conducted in the future. For supporters, the app appeared to be just
another way to digitally connect to the campaign. But to the Windy City number crunchers, it
was a game changer. “I think this will wind up being the most
groundbreaking piece of technology developed for this campaign,” says Teddy Goff, the
Obama campaign’s digital director. That’s because the more than 1 million Obama
backers who signed up for the app gave the campaign permission to look at their Facebook
friend lists. In an instant, the campaign had a way to see
the hidden young voters. Roughly 85% of those without a listed phone
number could be found in the uploaded friend lists. What’s more, Facebook offered an ideal way
to reach them. “People don’t trust campaigns. They don’t even trust media organizations,”
says Goff. “Who do they trust? Their friends.” The campaign called this effort targeted sharing. And in those final weeks of the campaign,
the team blitzed the supporters who had signed up for the app with requests to share specific
online content with specific friends simply by clicking a button. More than 600,000 supporters followed through
with more than 5 million contacts, asking their friends to register to vote, give money,
vote or look at a video designed to change their mind. A geek squad in Chicago created models from
vast data sets to find the best approaches for each potential voter. “We are not just sending you a banner ad,”
explains Dan Wagner, the Obama campaign’s 29-year-old head of analytics, who helped
oversee the project. “We are giving you relevant information
from your friends.” Early tests of the system found statistically
significant changes in voter behavior. People whose friends sent them requests to
register to vote and to vote early, for example, were more likely to do so than similar potential
voters who were not contacted. That confirmed a trend already noted in political-science
literature: online social networks have the power to change voting behavior. A study of 61 million people on Facebook during
the 2010 midterms found that people who saw photos of their friends voting on Election
Day were more likely to cast a ballot themselves. Before we look at the take-away from this,
we first need to address some differences and similarities between what Obama did in
2012 and what Trump did in 2015 and 2016. Trump campaign didn’t have a permission
to use Facebook data of 50 million users. The app developed by Cambridge University
academic Alexander Kogan paid its 270,000 users to download it for research purposes
only. When Facebook found out Cambridge Analytica
used this harvested information, they told the company to delete all user data. But Facebook couldn’t just go out there
and admit to the leak of 50 million Facebook users that was going to be used for a political
campaign. So they kept quiet, and Cambridge Analytica
proceeded to use the data for Trump campaign without any sanctions. Obama’s campaign on the other hand was allowed
to manipulate Facebook users by flooding their social feeds with posts that would act as
behavioral triggers. We learned from the last video that Facebook
uses these behavioral triggers to influence people’s actions. But you might ask why would Facebook be happy
with leaking information to Obama campaign, but getting that to Trump makes them nervous. What gives? Check out this Twitter thread by former Obama
campaign official Carol Davidsen. An article written in 2012 about a project
code named tärgus → that’s the article we are going over here. An example of how we used that data to append
to our email lists. → This is what their calling for people
to sign up for the app over Facebook looked like. Facebook was surprised we were able to suck
out the whole social graph, but they didn’t stop us once they realized that was what we
were doing. They came to office in the days following
election recruiting & were very candid that they allowed us to do things they wouldn’t
have allowed someone else to do because they were on our side. I am also 100% positive that Facebook activity
recruits and staffs people that are on the other side. I start talking about Facebook at around minute
18, and had more to say, before getting dragged off stage because i didn’t understand the
clock in the back of the room. So there you have it. Silicon Valley just loves hanging out with
the administration. But back to our story. Countless experiments Facebook has conducted
in this way suggest that people are much more susceptible to these behavioral triggers and
artificial intelligence is excellent at predicting and manipulating human behavior. One of the biggest take-aways from this story
is that even if you choose to stay out of politics, you might have a friend who signed
you up for someone’s campaign without your consent and your profile will be used to manipulate
you. This is deeply troubling. You can’t do anything to stop psychological
warfare over access into your mind. The only solution is to get out of these mainstream
media. It’s really a matter of urgency at this
point. It’s too late for excuses. Greed for power of mega-behemoths like Facebook
have no bottom and no cap. The price you pay for this superficial online
connection is too high. And if you think this social media manipulation
doesn’t concern you because you think you are smarter than artificial intelligence,
you are arguing against multi-billion dollar industry of behavioral psychology, data science,
an AI development. It’s a guarantee that if you choose to go
with the flow of addictive designs you will lose. You are just as human as any of those Facebook
users who were manipulated by psychological algorithms. The fact that both Obama’s and Trump’s
campaign turned to be successful is a proof the social media manipulation industry is
doing something right. However, the bombshell of the story is yet
to drop: Because it took more than a year to build
the system, it was deployed only in the campaign’s homestretch. The Romney team used a far less sophisticated
version of the technology. Political strategists on both sides say that
in the future they intend to get the system working sooner in primaries in key states
and with more buy-in from supporters, who will have a greater understanding of their
role in the process. This is the politics of modern day. We’re not going to live in a dystopian future. It’s already here. The politics no longer happens in front of
the cameras, behind the ballot boxes, or behind closed doors. Politics are decided on in the cyber space. Whoever wins the next election is going to
be determined by whoever manages to design a better AI to manipulate us. Our decisions are no longer free and rational. Our psychological and emotional traits are
exploited to predetermine our decisions before we can even think about them critically. What’s interesting is that this article
hints that campaigners want to learn from their experience in 2012 and apply these manipulative
algorithms sooner. Even during primaries. Well, Trump’s campaign definitely learned
its lesson as they started with this in 2015. The political battles of the 21st century
take place in your mind uploaded to the cloud without asking you for permission. It’s no longer best slogans, most resonating
policies, or charisma that win the hearts of voters. He who develops the smartest AI to harvest
everything they can about you and use it to manipulate you as effectively as possible,
gets to win a seat of total control. Welcome to the post-free world. It’s really hard to digest this but it’s
crucially important to understand that this is happening today. Every second you spend on social media is
stored to be used against you during the next election cycle. You have to understand this. This is totally unprecedented and quite frankly
even hard to grasp. But it is a reality that artificial intelligence
does have the power to grasp the psychology of human behavior that we thought was much
more random and unpredictably because of our individualities and free will. But artificial intelligence using computational
power stronger than ours by several orders of magnitude is able to see beyond that. What we couldn’t learn in centuries of science,
AI comprehends within seconds. You should learn that anything you see on
the social media, even if it’s coming from your trusted friends, can be just a part of
a constructed agenda enforced by artificial intelligence. Never trust any trend anywhere ever. It’s very important that you understand
what this means. It’s very important that if your constitutional
amendments mean anything to you, you aren’t going to just sit back and do nothing. This goes beyond your political believes and
alignments. This changes everything. I hope this changes how you view social media
and approach services offered by the tech giants. I hope you liked this video and if you did
please engage commenting, liking and sharing. Subscribe if you’re new and thanks for watching.