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How Facebook's Ubiquitous Surveillance Helped Trump Win (12/5/2016)

How Facebook's Ubiquitous Surveillance Helped Trump Win (12/5/2016)

Maybe you should block Facebook? A rough guide on how Peter Thiel gave Trump's campaign a boost in social media.

Peter Thiel, FB Board Member. Source: Open Source, Wikipedia.

La Cartita -- In a Forbes Interview with Jared Kushner, campaign aide for Trump & Son-In-Law, A key board member of Facebook (a company you have trusted with sharing your forever archived political views and personal communication), Peter Thiel, was acknowledged yesterday as a key element in Donald Trump's social media campaign. Looking to accredit himself for contributions to the social media campaign, Kushner also wound up revealing details that any techie would be able to piece together to find what was behind Donald's social media reach.

Who Is Peter Thiel?

Peter Thiel is a key board member of Facebook. He also provides a software platform for markerters, law enforcement and intelligence analysts to visualize social media data called Palantir.

Peter Thiel is also one of the original founders of Pay Pal. He made out rich afterwards, but before that he worked in finance (hedge funds) and eventually became a key investor in Facebook; he's maintained access to the Faceboook platform since its first meaningful inception, loaning Zuckerberg seed money for his venture. Thiel has maintained his status as a billionaire ever since the success of Pay Pal and Facebook.

Thiel provided millions to Trump, access to data and technical advisors for his campaign. He also hates unrestricted free speech. Earlier in 2016, Thiel helped Hulk Hogan destroy Gawker in a lawsuit that bankrupted the media outlet. Thiel publicly acknowledged he financed the suit because the outlet had 'outed' him as gay.

Trump's Son-In-Law Runs Websites ...

Jared Kushner contacted Silicon Valley experts in marketing and advertising, among them Thiel, and obtained the services of various specialized subcontractors who likely have access to the droves of personal and geospatial data linked to social media accounts. This data led to a social media campaign that emphasized ROI measured as a ratio between dollar spent on audiences and its correspondence to eventual electoral votes.

According to the Forbes article, a concerted effort was made to track ideas and topics in order to determine what Trump would say. One can imagine they gathered data points on hot right wing topics like immigration, jobs, trade, etc and where Trump would say them. Rally’s were determined as committed voters were tracked with both a combination of RNC data and social media 'firehose' (a term used to reference special access to social media data; all of which is for sale) data made available through Thiel’s connections.

Not only would Kushner have had subcontractors with special firehose access to FB data on relevant voters, but also access to the opposition voters too. This suggests an easy ability to tailor counter responses to fact-checkers, rival candidates and light media criticism. Simultaneously, Republicans were able to secure one last crucial advantage: shutting down dissenting voices that contradicted their own campaign message.

Facebook Removed Humans Who Could Prevent Fake News

What finally tipped the scales for Trump was not just the infinite amount of data made available through Thiel’s connections, but also the seamless manner in which his campaign message had no real opposition besides mass popular opinion. Remember that Facebook made an explicit choice to remove the human filter between its trending algorithms and fake news was removed due to supposed bias against right wing views. How interesting, then, that the moment the Facebook editors were removed, the news filter began favoring fake news – makes you wonder what those media curators were actually biased against in the first place.

Fine. How Did FB Help Trump Win It? Why?

The mechanics are simple enough to understand the big picture; Thiel knows you, the social media user, through your data and told Trump how to move and where for the cheapest amount of money. He owns the platforms and data miners who Trump needed to do it, and he understands the technology. The more interesting question is what does Thiel get in return from Trump besides a curtailing of his own civil rights (Thiel is gay, but he doesn’t like people talking about it – ask Gawker)? The answer: a way to curtail Net neutrality. Given the monster unleashed upon the American public, one can reasonably guess what side of the issue Thiel, personally, is on, but also one needn’t restrict themselves to just his opinion as expressed through campaign donations and ‘volunteer work’.

Facebook’s recent attempts to curtail Net Neutrality in India have been met with an intelligent opposition who refuses to stratify internet users based on content (Facebook effectively wishes to be the default site for users at the expense of all others). This means that it could very well be a boon for Facebook as a company, Thiel as an investor, and all we need to do is check out the recent net neutrality opponents being considered for regulatory positions in the FCC, a task beyond the scope of this article.

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