Notiz zum „Cambridge Analytica“ – Hype

Auf einen wesentlichen Teil der Fakten habe ich vor 16 Monaten hingewiesen. Nur zwei der drei Links arbeiten noch, dafür habe ich einen anderen, zu einem Typen, der sich noch ’ne Menge Hirn bewahrt hat. Er liefert zudem wesentliche allgemeine Beiträge zu meinen verstreuten Bemerkungen zu „Verschwörungstheorien“ und Verschwörungen.

Weil das ein sehr langer Text ist und mir daran liegt, einige Argumente hervor zu heben, die ich seinerzeit auf den St. Nimmerleinstag verschob, zitiere ich lange Passagen in der Hoffnung, der Autor wird meinem zehneinhalb-Leser -Blog den Übergriff zugestehen.

“ ‘The more they know about you, the more they can influence you’ says our presenter, Gabriel Gatehouse. But is this true? (…) He goes on, ‘In the age of big data, is our democracy open to manipulation?’ As though our democracies weren’t open to manipulation before, and that this is something new.

This is all setup, designed to play on people’s shock or anger or confusion at political results not going the way they wanted or expected. When people are in such a state, it is very easy to convince them that this one thing they hadn’t heard about before is the sole or major reason why something happened. This is especially effective when it is something outside, so it isn’t that I did something wrong and that’s why I feel like this, it’s all someone else’s fault. An obscure data analytics and social media marketing firm whose CEO is both two-faced and prone to exaggerating the effectiveness of their methods is a perfect scapegoat.

On the subject of which, Nix is obviously lying when he denies their involvement in the Leave campaign. (…) he’s clearly lying. You don’t have be an expert in cognitive and behavioural science to notice this. But herein lies a problem – his only apparent reason for lying is if they did something untoward that affected the result, so his weak denial actually serves as an effective marketing tool, as indeed do all the claims and conspiracy theories surrounding Cambridge Analytica. It makes them look like they’ve got the keys to the castle, like they can win elections at will.

Covert Operations

The BBC’s segment made the connection between what Cambridge Analytica are doing, and military psychological operations – psyops. This is fair and accurate, one of the few points in the segment that was proper journalism. But one thing we can learn from covert operations, especially psychological warfare operations, is that they can fail. Even the classic example, the CIA and MI6 coup in Iran in the 1950s, came within a hair’s breadth of failing. Likewise at the Bay of Pigs in the 1960s, the CIA expected that their invasion would see thousands of like-minded Cubans rise up against the government and help to overthrow Castro. It never happened. (…)

I will also ask: what PR and propaganda isn’t psychological? If you read Bernays, or psyops documents from WW2, you realise that this stuff goes back decades at the least. One could make the argument that it goes back millenia, if you think back to the Trojan war and how Patroclus put on Achilles armour and pretended to be Achilles on the battlefield in order to intimidate the enemy. (Oder denkt an das gut dokumentierte Beispiel der Vorbereitungen zur Eliminierung Sokrates, TG) Covert, even false flag operations are an old game. The idea that just because they’re using more sophisticated technology that Cambridge Analytica have changed the whole paradigm is simply untrue.

Nonetheless, I am not denying that these techniques can be effective, sometimes very effective. I was recently reading a GCHQ report from 2011 – two years before Cambridge Analytica were even founded – about incorporating behavioural science into JTRIG operations. JTRIG are the Joint Threat Research Intelligence Group, a cyber-ops unit of GCHQ. It explains how:

JTRIG targets a range of individual, group and state actors across the globe who pose criminal, security and defence threats. JTRIG staff use a range of techniques to, for example, discredit, disrupt, delay, deny, degrade, and deter. The techniques include: uploading YouTube videos containing persuasive messages; establishing online aliases with Facebook and Twitter accounts, blogs and forum memberships for conducting HUMINT or encouraging discussion on specific issues; sending spoof emails and text messages as well as providing spoof online resources; and setting up spoof trade sites.

Further on it explains how these techniques are being used against Iran, to try to discredit the government, in Afghanistan as part of the counter-insurgency program to try to turn the local population against the Taliban, to help regime change in Zimbabwe – basically, to do what Cambridge Analytica are accused of doing in the US and UK. (…)

(…) While the Snowden leaks were little more than confirmation of stuff that quite a few people had known for years, the media coverage ensured that no one could deny that this was happening. The only laws passed in the wake of Snowden effectively normalised these practices, they offered very little in the way of new control or oversight or legal obligations and rights for citizens. (…)

So there is this lingering sense of guilt – that in exchange for a safe and stable society we’ve accepted mass surveillance of everything we do with electronic communications, which is about half of what we do with our lives. Deep down most people know that it’s bullshit, that this is totalitarian tactics in a velvet glove, but in the absence of any obvious means of doing something about it, we’ve acquiesced. That internalisation of guilt inevitably leads to suspicion and projection, so now we’re accusing the Russian state, Chinese hackers, Cambridge Analytica and even ISIS of doing things that we know our own governments have done. (…)

And herein lies the worst element of this whole story – that in order to believe that Cambridge Analytica are capable of manipulating people on a mass scale we must believe that we’re that easy to game, to con, to deceive. The entire conspiracy theory about Cambridge Analytica is only plausible if you ignore people’s ability to think for themselves and their responsibility for doing so. (…)

[Techniken, die zum Beispiel (britische Geschichte kenne ich zu wenig) von jesuitischen und antiklerikalen Konspirateuren und Ministern in der Geschichte des französischen Absolutismus  entwickelt wurden und später unter dem jakobinischen Regime und in der bonapartistischen Restauration eine prominente Rolle spielten. Ein banaler Grund für diese Vorreiterrolle: Die Konzentration des administrativen, geistigen, gesellschaftlichen Lebens im Pariser Raum. Das Grundkonzept der „Bild-Zeitung“ beruht auf dieser Technik, Tittenparade inclusive]

Indeed, this is how the conspiracy-themed media have responded to the mainstreaming of this conspiracy theory – to throw their hands in the air and shout ‘woe is us’ or to say smugly ‘see, this is why people shouldn’t vote’. Both are disempowering, self-victimising, self-alienating nonsense. Indeed, almost no coverage of this story empowers people or helps them actualise their political desires and ambitions in any way. I know you could say that about most political coverage across the whole world, and you’d be right, but it’s especially true with this one.

When the psychologists say that conspiracy theories become popular in the wake of shocking events as people search for explanations and reasons, they aren’t wrong. It’s just they generally only apply that to the classic form of the conspiracy theory – the JFK assassination being the apotheosis, the perfect example. If we apply it to the contemporary, postmodern form of the conspiracy theory – the one that is half-endorsed by the major media – then the same is true.“
End quote.

Zur Antwort auf Fragen, warum CA gerade jetzt hoch gekocht wird, leistet der Autor ebenfalls Beiträge. Dazu  vielleicht irgendwann mehr.

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