The Real Scandal Isn’t What Cambridge Analytica Did
It’s what Facebook made possible.
A couple of excerpts:
Sinister as it sounds, “psychographic” targeting—advertising to people based on information about their attitudes, interests, and personality traits—is an imprecise science at best and “snake oil” at worst.
If you think of that data, and the ads, as a relatively small price to pay for the privilege of seamless connection to everyone you know and care about, then Facebook looks like the wildly successful, path-breaking company that made it all possible. But if you start to think of the bargain as Faustian—with hidden long-term costs that overshadow the obvious benefits—then that would make Facebook the devil.
What this scandal did, then, was make the grand bargain of the social web look a little more Faustian than it did before.
From that perspective, the real scandal is that this wasn’t a data breach or some egregious isolated error on Facebook’s part. What Cambridge Analytica did was, in many ways, what Facebook was optimized for—collating personal information about vast numbers of people in handy packets that could then be used to try to sell them something.
Yes, the real scandal is that most of us are giving away real value that we need to survive in the digital economy.