/ Deeply scary article on data gathering and elections

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Murderous_Crow - on 11 May 2017
timjones - on 11 May 2017
In reply to Murderous_Crow:


More like monotonous and boring than deeply scary IMO.

So many words, so little content
Murderous_Crow - on 11 May 2017
In reply to timjones:

Do you really think?

Actually, let me rephrase that.

Do you really think.
timjones - on 11 May 2017
In reply to Murderous_Crow:

> Do you really think? Actually, let me rephrase that. Do you really think.

Yes on both counts you patronising git ;)

There may be a good point in there somewhere but the article seems to spend forever going around the houses to get there.
Murderous_Crow - on 11 May 2017
In reply to timjones:

Thank you, I do try ;)

I thought it was well written. But its editorial quality notwithstanding, it's undeniably (and doggedly) well researched. It cites reputable sources, and its facts can be checked.

The article uncovers connections which indicate that serious attempts have been and likely are being made, by unelected individuals and companies, to influence elections using means not yet covered in law. The implications are deep, regardless of one's stance on the political motives behind such attempts.

Even if the attempts have zero influence (unlikely, as the methodology is solid and evidence-based), it's worrying. Clearly significant sums are being invested in pursuit of this goal, and it's likely that some success has already been achieved.

Big Ger - on 01:35 Fri
In reply to Murderous_Crow:


This the sort of thing you mean?


Gina Miller, the pro-Europe campaigner, is targeting voters with tailored Facebook advertising in dozens of Labour and Conservative seats. The financier’s campaign group, Best for Britain, which is seeking to boost the number of pro-remain MPs in the next parliament, is sending out different messages to different voters in seats from Aberdeen to Southampton.

https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2017/may/13/millionaire-brexit-donor-targets-remain-mps
Timmd on 02:01 Fri
In reply to Big Ger:
Did you know, that in terms of funding, the difference between Leave and Remain eerily mirrors the 52/48 result?*

All Gena Miller is doing is equalling things out a little. You need to look at things more broadly. ;-)

(*It's true by the way.)


Post edited at 02:02
Big Ger - on 02:55 Fri
In reply to Timmd:

In terms of funding the more popular idea raised more money? Colour me surprised.

Gina Miller, is an interfering, self-elected, busy-body, she should stand for Parliament if she wants to change our politics.

Her husband Alan, the original “Mr Hedge Fund”, made more than £30 million in the City.
Jack - on 05:09 Fri
In reply to Big Ger:

> In terms of funding the more popular idea raised more money? Colour me surprised.Gina Miller, is an interfering, self-elected, busy-body, she should stand for Parliament if she wants to change our politics.Her husband Alan, the original “Mr Hedge Fund”, made more than £30 million in the City.

So what do you think of Robert Mercer?
Big Ger - on 05:11 Fri
In reply to Jack:

Another interfering oaf, but one who has confined his activities to funding in the main.
Jack - on 05:19 Fri
In reply to Big Ger:

> This the sort of thing you mean?Gina Miller, the pro-Europe campaigner, is targeting voters with tailored Facebook advertising in dozens of Labour and Conservative seats. The financier’s campaign group, Best for Britain, which is seeking to boost the number of pro-remain MPs in the next parliament, is sending out different messages to different voters in seats from Aberdeen to Southampton.https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2017/may/13/millionaire-brexit-donor-targets-remain-mps

Where did that quote come from about Gina Miller? Its not in the article you linked to.

In fact the article you linked to is about a pro brexit attempt to influence the election by a rich unelected tory.
Jack - on 05:25 Fri
In reply to Big Ger:

> Another interfering oaf, but one who has confined his activities to funding in the main.

Ah, just funding - thats ok then. Did you read the article in the op? Have you looked into what cambridge anylytica did during the referendum?

It goes way beyond funding.
Big Ger - on 05:29 Fri
In reply to Jack:

I don't know what the hell happened there, it was meant to be a link to this:

https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2017/may/18/gina-miller-targets-voters-with-tailored-facebook-a...
Big Ger - on 05:34 Fri
In reply to Jack:
> Ah, just funding - thats ok then.

Did I say it was ok?


> Did you read the article in the op? Have you looked into what cambridge anylytica did during the referendum?It goes way beyond funding.

Yes, they claim to have provided targeted information via facebook, which is what Gina Miller is attempting to use.

Private Eye, exposed Cambridge Analytica as being less than competent, oh, and also;

"This article is the subject of a legal complaint on behalf of Cambridge Analytica LLC and SCL Elections Limited."
Post edited at 05:38
Jack - on 05:36 Fri
In reply to Big Ger:

> I don't know what the hell happened there, it was meant to be a link to this:https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2017/may/18/gina-miller-targets-voters-with-tailored-facebook-a...

Thats better. An article about miller "an interfering, self-elected, busy-body, she should stand for Parliament if she wants to change our politics."

Rather than an article about another "interfering oaf, who has confined his activities to funding in the main."
Jack - on 05:43 Fri
In reply to Big Ger:

> Did I say it was ok?Yes, they claim to have provided targeted information via facebook, which is what Gina Miller is attempting to use.Private Eye, exposed Cambridge Analytica as being less than competent, oh, and also; This article is the subject of a legal complaint on behalf of Cambridge Analytica LLC and SCL Elections Limited.

Your use of the phrase "confined to just funding in the main" implies that this constitutes a lesser degree of influence than what Miller is attempting. In fact, miller appears to be using similar techniques to cambridge anylytica.

Big Ger - on 05:50 Fri
In reply to Jack:

> Your use of the phrase "confined to just funding in the main" implies that this constitutes a lesser degree of influence than what Miller is attempting. In fact, miller appears to be using similar techniques to cambridge anylytica.


As I say, Miller took the referendum decision to court, a far higher level interference than trying to encourage people to vote a particular way.

> In June 2016, in the aftermath of the United Kingdom European Union membership referendum, Miller privately engaged the City law firm Mishcon de Reya to challenge the authority of the British Government to invoke Article 50 of the Treaty on European Union using prerogative powers, arguing that only Parliament can take away rights that Parliament has granted.
Big Ger - on 05:59 Fri
In reply to Murderous_Crow:

I'm also wondering if anyone here feels or thinks they may have been 'influenced" in their voting by these social media targettings?

Or is it just those thick proles, Daily mail readers, and Little Englanders, who realy should be allowed to vote in any case, who were affected?
Jack - on 06:13 Fri
In reply to Big Ger:

She didnt take the decision to court. It was about the right of parliament voting on triggering article 50. This was all done openly, in public and according to the rule of law despite the best efforts of certain papers to undermine it.

But thats not what we were talking about. You have implied that millers use of social media is unacceptable but mercers is "just funding in the main".

That is an inconsistent point of view. They are both, in principle, the same thing.









Offwidth - on 06:34 Fri
In reply to Jack:

Spot on. Millar is open about what she is doing and following UK law. Mercer is using shell companies to hide whilst subverting the principles of UK election funding rules. Some people are so attached to their politics they miss the danger.
Murderous_Crow - on 08:46 Fri
In reply to Offwidth:

Yes, exactly.

In reply to Big Ger:

> This the sort of thing you mean?

You must have missed the bit where I said

> serious attempts have been and likely are being made, by unelected individuals and companies, to influence elections using means not yet covered in law. The implications are deep, regardless of one's stance on the political motives behind such attempts. Even if the attempts have zero influence (unlikely, as the methodology is solid and evidence-based), it's worrying. Clearly significant sums are being invested in pursuit of this goal, and it's likely that some success has already been achieved.

It appears you have something of an axe to grind mate:

> As I say, Miller took the referendum decision to court, a far higher level interference

Bit authoritarian, that. If you think that someone exercising their right to bring a case before the courts constitutes 'interference' it demonstrates a fairly deep lack of understanding of the checks and balances built in to a democracy.

> than trying to encourage people to vote a particular way.

An extremely 'glossy' way of describing the use of evidence-based psychological methodology to specifically target and influence people without their knowledge or consent, using data obtained in a variety of legal but highly nefarious ways.
Timmd on 11:57 Fri
In reply to Big Ger:
> As I say, Miller took the referendum decision to court, a far higher level interference than trying to encourage people to vote a particular way.

She upheld - or stood up for, the influence of our parliament, it's right to have a say over what happens to and in the UK, which is what Brexit was meant to be about. You can't have it both ways dude.
Post edited at 11:59
thomasadixon - on 13:00 Fri
In reply to Murderous_Crow:

> An extremely 'glossy' way of describing the use of evidence-based psychological methodology to specifically target and influence people without their knowledge or consent, using data obtained in a variety of legal but highly nefarious ways.

So they used data to target people and then tried to convince these people (who they thought would likely agree with them, due to the data they had) to vote in particular way. They being Vote Leave, who were hardly hiding what they wanted to convince people to do.

What exactly is the big deal here? That companies that do this are getting better? In politics data has *always* been used to target people. Parties target seats, and then canvas based on where they think they have a chance of winning (ie where they think there are enough people that they can convince to vote for them), for example.

Do you think that the remain camp didn't use data to target people during the referendum? Can't say I've looked into it but I'd be shocked (at their stupidity) if they didn't.
Murderous_Crow - on 14:02 Fri
In reply to thomasadixon:

> So they used data to target people and then tried to convince these people

Yes that's established.

> who they thought would likely agree with them, due to the data they had

That's a big extrapolation, and is certainly inaccurate. Millions are not spent, convincing people who already agree with you. It's made quite clear in the linked article that the aim of this endeavour was to find 'slivers of influence that can tip an election.'

> What exactly is the big deal here?

Really? Ok. Due to almost-opaque business practices and privacy policies, very few users of Facebook, Google and a plethora of other sites, fully understand how completely the combined data set from these entities penetrates their lives. Where they've been. Who they're friends with. Where they like to hang out. Their interests, sexual preferences, employment history. Who they admire. This is the tip of the iceberg, in truth. Similar methodology has already clearly shown that peoples' political leanings can be accurately gleaned from their Facebook 'likes' alone. Not to mention the other data:

'...the company also (perfectly legally) bought consumer datasets – on everything from magazine subscriptions to airline travel – and uniquely it appended these with the psych data to voter files. It matched all this information to people’s addresses, their phone numbers and often their email addresses. “The goal is to capture every single aspect of every voter’s information environment...”'

This huge, diverse data set was assembled and used to identify and influence key swing voters using a stream of individualised, targeted advertisements *without the individual's knowledge or consent*. Were this set up as an interventional experiment, it would be extremely unlikely to pass review from the research ethics committee. The methodology used violates some key points of well-established codes of ethics, first and most important being that of informed consent.

I'd further suggest that the effectiveness of such methods is likely closely linked to how unaware the recipient is.

> That companies that do this are getting better? In politics data has *always* been used to target people. Parties target seats, and then canvas based on where they think they have a chance of winning

Yes. Hereto now however, political parties have not poked around people's individual lives to determine susceptible voters to specifically harass. They've put themselves out there via canvassing and traditional advertising and hoped their 'product' was good enough to buy, just like everyone else.

It's plain to see that using psychological priming via individualised and targeted advertising based on a data set that the consumer likely has no idea they have even allowed for sale (let alone its extent), affords entities with access to these methods an unfair, and unethical advantage.
thomasadixon - on 14:17 Fri
In reply to Murderous_Crow:

> Yes that's established.That's a big extrapolation, and is certainly inaccurate. Millions are not spent, convincing people who already agree with you.

I said that they're spent convincing people who you think are convincible. That's the point of targeting. This is big data, as used in advertising, and is being used in pretty much the same way.

> 'This huge, diverse data set was assembled and used to identify and influence key swing voters using a stream of individualised, targeted advertisements *without the individual's knowledge or consent*.

As above - a huge data set used to identify and target key voters. Can you explain when advertisers last asked for your consent to advertise to you, or when political parties last asked your permission to write to you?

> Hereto now however, political parties have not poked around people's individual lives to determine susceptible voters to specifically harass.

You really don't think political parties have targeted voters before, by (e.g.) race, sex, age, other demographic information? They're just (like advertisers) getting better as there's more information available. In the end the voters have to *choose* to follow what they're asked to do, this isn't hypnosis.
Geras on 14:18 Fri
In reply to Murderous_Crow:


>>I'd further suggest that the effectiveness of such methods is likely closely linked to how unaware the recipient is.

Would agree that it's most likely to influence those that are less informed through other media, its well established that we vote like our friends. I have a lot of family and friends 'up north' who were for leave and I was bombarded with ads and articles with an anti-EU/Exit leaning. This was despite my close friends (and myself) being remain. The ads did not influence me, they just annoyed me to hell.

I suspect that their algorthims did not target specfic recipients, but rather the friends of people they have identified as likely supporters.

Bob Kemp - on 16:01 Fri
In reply to Murderous_Crow:

This is pretty alarming too - how the Russians have been employing similar methods:

http://time.com/4783932/inside-russia-social-media-war-america/
Big Ger - on 00:12 Sat
In reply to Timmd:

> She upheld - or stood up for, the influence of our parliament, it's right to have a say over what happens to and in the UK, which is what Brexit was meant to be about.

Now that's a reasonable take on it.

> You can't have it both ways dude.

I'll not bite ;-)
Big Ger - on 03:26 Sat
In reply to Timmd:
This is interesting;

> According to HuffPost’s May 17 report, Cambridge Analytica’s attorneys sent The Guardian a “Pre-Action Protocol for Defamation” after writer Carole Cadwalladr reported that the firm and its British affiliate “tied to competing pro-Brexit Leave campaigns … hadn’t disclosed a partnership” and potentially violated British election law. According to The Guardian’s Sunday edition, The Observer, Cambridge Analytica said that the reporting “contained significant inaccuracies and amounted to a sustained campaign of vilification designed to paint a false and misleading picture of their clients,” also alleging that the newspaper was “conducting a concerted campaign to undermine their clients and cause them damage.”

> On Wednesday, The Guardian informed staff that the firms had threatened legal action and it added a disclaimer to more than a half-dozen articles and editorials. “These articles are the subject of a legal complaint on behalf of Cambridge Analaytica LLC and SCL Elections Limited,” the disclaimer reads. A Guardian spokesperson said the paper had no additional comment.
Post edited at 03:27
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