On Sunday, The Guardian (UK) ran a much-ballyhooed “expose” about the nefarious technological activities of Trump data firm Cambridge Analytica. That firm was owned by the Mercer family, and former Trump campaign strategist Steve Bannon had a stake as well; Cambridge Analytica’s original client in the 2016 election cycle was Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX). According to The Guardian and its source, one Christopher Wylie, Cambridge used sophisticated data gathering to amass a huge database of information about potential voters — exactly the same thing the Obama team did in 2012 and was widely praised for doing. But somehow it’s supremely nefarious when Trump’s campaign did it in 2016, even if they did nothing illegal.
What, exactly, did Cambridge do? They supposedly contracted with Global Science Research to issue a personality quiz; in order for you to take the quiz, you had to give them access to your Facebook profile. They then cross-referenced personality tendencies with politics. First, this isn’t particularly shocking or particularly sophisticated. Second, Cambridge Analytica claims they didn’t use data from GSR.
Facebook, upon finding out about this non-illegal, rather common internet activity, promptly suspended Cambridge Analytica. Which makes sense, since this entire scandal is designed to pressure Facebook into cracking down on supposed right-wing activity.
This is part of a broader pattern: Democrats, enraged at Trump’s election, have targeted social media as the supposed nexus in a corrupt scheme to deny Hillary Clinton the presidency. They tacitly threaten legislative crackdowns. Then those social media companies, which lean left anyway, crack down on right-wingers. Voila! Problem solved. It’s no coincidence that Democratic officials have spent an inordinate amount of time jabbering about idiotic pro-Trump memes on Facebook, posted by Russians and seen by virtually no one; it’s no coincidence Democrats keep complaining about “fake news,” by which they mean “news we don’t agree with.” The goal isn’t to stop Russian interference, but to push Facebook to stop allowing non-Democratic-approved content. And Facebook has complied.
This isn’t a secret. Wired ran a cover story about the political pressure campaign against Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg in February. Here’s what that article has to say about Facebook’s perspective:
The stories varied, but most people told the same basic tale: of a company, and a CEO, whose techno-optimism has been crushed as they’ve learned the myriad ways their platform can be used for ill. Of an election that shocked Facebook, even as its fallout put the company under siege. Of a series of external threats, defensive internal calculations, and false starts that delayed Facebook’s reckoning with its impact on global affairs and its users’ minds. And—in the tale’s final chapters—of the company’s earnest attempt to redeem itself.
This latest story on Cambridge Analytica is just part of a larger attempt to convince social media companies that the best way to fly under the radar is to shut down conservative opinions — and the Leftists who run Silicon Valley are more than likely to embrace that solution, even as they claim they’re merely attempting political neutrality. It’s not a coincidence that Facebook’s new algorithms have slammed conservative Facebook traffic. It’s not a coincidence that YouTube seems to demonetize conservative videos. It’s not a coincidence that Twitter suspends Steven Crowder but recommends that others follow Louis Farrakhan.
We’re watching the social media crackdown on the Right take place in real time. And if conservatives don’t find other outlets for distributing their message, the supposedly open platforms that they used to debate, argue, and convince will become political apartheid technology used to quash their opinions.