Brian Holmes on Sun, 18 Mar 2018 20:36:16 +0100 (CET)

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<nettime> Troll factories in some shitty St Petersburg office?

Kremlebots roll over:

Voice of Christopher Wylie, the 28 year-old hipster data scientist:

"We spent a million dollars harvesting tens of millions of Facebook profiles, and those profiles were used as the basis of the algorithms that became the foundation of Cambridge Analytica itself...

"We would know what kinds of messaging you would be susceptible to, including the framing of it, the topics, the content, the tone, whether it's scary, that kind of thing.... what you would be susceptible to and where you're going to consume that, and how many times do we need to touch you in order to make you change how you think about something.

"In addition to having data scientists, and psychologists, and strategists, they also have an entire team of creatives, designers, videographers, photographers.

"They then create that content, that gets then sent to a targeting team, which then injects it into the internet. Websites will be created, blogs will be created. Whatever it is that we think this target profile will be receptive to, we will create content on the internet for them to find. And then they see that, they click, and they go down the rabbit hole - until they start to think something differently.

"Instead of standing in the public square and saying what you think, and letting people come and listen to you, and then having that shared experience as to what your narrative is, you are whispering into the ear of each and every voter, and you may be whispering one thing to this voter and another thing to another voter. We risk fragmenting society in a way where we don't have any more shared experiences, and we don't have any more shared understanding. If we don't have any more shared understanding, how can we be a functioning society?

"If you want to fundamentally change society, you first have to break it. And it's only when you break it that you can remold the pieces into your vision of a new society. This was the weapon that Steve Bannon wanted to build to fight his culture war."


All this was done by a London firm, with money supplied by arch-conservative algotrading meister Robert Mercer. What's more it was done with data harvested from Facebook by a Cambridge-based Russian academic who actually does have an office at some shitty St Petersburg university, and it's not yet known whether the data or even the algorithms ended up there.

I am aware the above has been partially known for months, yes, I read all that. It is still not completely known but the above declarations by a core developer link the major dots and mark a turning point in global history. Either social media is regulated (see Allan Siegal's post) or we knowingly concede entry into a post-democracy of continuous psy-ops and civil information warfare. Where the biggest guns reap all the rewards.

The additional question of whether Trump, Nigel Farage and others can be directly linked to Russian psy-ops programs and/or prosecuted for the use of these techniques raises the specter of intense inter-elite conflicts spilling over into civil unrest, with the further possibility of the US president launching global-scale shooting wars as a diversionary excuse for state-of-emergency tactics.

This is the endgame of the neoliberal program for the total makeover of society, which began in the early Seventies with the Powell memo and the Trilateral Commission declaration on "too much democracy." I think it will be defeated and at least partially purged from both the state and civil society. But obviously nothing assures that outcome.

Also see: ("Computer-based personality judgments are more accurate than those made by humans")

And the articles:

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