The social media giant, Facebook, had recently suspended data agency Cambridge Analytica for misusing user data. Incidentally, this data agency was also rumoured to be hired by the Congress party for their elections management. We had earlier juxtaposed the methods of Cambridge Analytics and analysed the implications if the data agency had already breached our privacy at the behest of Congress. In this article, the author had written :
When asked what Cambridge Analytica was trying to do with so much data, Wylie explained the questionable methods of Cambridge Analytica, saying “We were going to combine micro-targeting, which was already existing in politics, and a new construct on psychology. And in order to scale that we’d be needing a lot of data on people, so that we could build a psychological profile of each voter in a particular region or in this case whole of United States”
He further adds, “We would know what kind of messaging you would be susceptible to, including the framing of it, the topics, the content, the tone, whether it would be scary or not. So, what you’d be susceptible to and where you are going to consume that and how many times we need to touch you with that in order to change how you think about something.”
Expanding further on the kind of team employed and the process followed at Cambridge Analytica, Wylie says, “In addition to having data scientists and psychologists, strategists, they also have an entire team of creatives, designers, videographers, photographers. They then create that content. That gets then sent to the targeting team, which then injects it into the internet. Websites would be created, blogs would be created, whatever we think this target profile would be receptive to. We will create content on the internet for them to find. And they see that and they click it and they go down the ‘rabbit hole’ until they start to think something differently.”
In effect, if reports of Congress and Rahul Gandhi hiring Cambridge Analytica is true, they will be doing something on the lines of what Wylie says these politicians are doing to destroy a democracy, “Instead of standing in the public square and saying what you think and then letting people come and listen to you and have that shared experiences to what you are, you are whispering into the ear of each and every voter and you may be whispering one thing to one voter and another thing to another voter. We risk fragmenting society in a way where we do not have any shared experiences and we do not have any more shared understanding.”
After BJP tore into Congress for this fiasco, in a strange twist of events, Congress app mysteriously vanished from Google PlayStore after it was exposed that Congress itself was misusing user data via this app.
While all of this information can be a little overwhelming and difficult to keep up with, in this episode of “The Right Picture”, Ashutosh Muglikar attempts to analyse the entire Cambridge Analytics data breach and Congress’ role in it.
We hope you enjoy the show!
You can watch the video on YouTube.
We thank Ashutosh for this collaboration and Prasad Karwa for doing a fantastic job with the video.