Turn On, Tune In, Drop Out of Social Media

Photo by Alan O’Rourke | CC BY 2.0

While the pool of Facebook accounts suspected of being harvested by Cambridge Analytica continues to grow it’s important to recognize that there’s more to this story than a cabal of shady republican operators. By focusing on Cambridge Analytica and its parent company, SCL, the major news outlets are creating the perception that what’s happening is the work of a few bad apples. When the reality is that the underlying problem is systemic in nature.

It’s not just the GOP. Political influence operations are a bipartisan affair. According to a number cruncherwho worked for the Democrats, the 2012 Obama campaign aggregated almost five times as much Facebook data as Cambridge Analytica. It’s just that in Obama’s case Facebook execs decided to turn a blind eye. As the source explained, “they allowed us to do things they wouldn’t have allowed someone else to do because they were on our side.”

In the aftermath of the Cambridge Analytica revelations, Zuckerberg has hired public relations experts and launched an extensive damage control campaign. Note, for example, the tacit assumption baked into the title of Brian Chen’s piecein the New York Times: “How to Protect Yourself (and Your Friends) on Facebook.” Are editors at the Times alleging that users can have their cake and eat it too?

Reading down into the article, Chen acknowledges that truly protecting your data would entail deleting your Facebook account. This…

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