BIG BROTHER IS WATCHING YOU
Since “1984” by George Orwell, written in 1949, we have all been worried about a Big Brother following us. The invention of phony wars to regulate us hasn’t been much considered. George Bush’s powers of listening to domestic callers after 9/11 under the Patriot Act was eventually removed.
Trump’s campaign suggestions of monitoring Muslims and their Mosques and associations has brought back the images of Big Brother powers. We were pretty sure that voter party registration records and donation records were being mined by both parties. And exit poll and phone surveys or mail-in party surveys would be mineable by both parties for targeting phone or mail election appeals.
Yet nobody knew what has just been revealed: that the Trump campaign had access to the complete Facebook records of 50 million people. This amounts to 5,000 data per person, including friends and preferences. This was done by the British company Cambridge Analytica. The election work was funded by Robert Mercer, backer of Trump, Steve Bannon, and Kellyanne Conway. Robert Mercer is co-COO of the hedge fund Renaissance Technologies. Steve Bannon, head of conservative website Breitbart, also backed by Mercer, was made a Vice President of Cambridge Analytica.
Almost none of these people volunteered their data. Only 270,000 people agreed that a research app could use their Facebook data by a psychometric researcher Aleksandr Kogan. He also worked for a St. Petersburg university. He says that he did not know that it was being used by the Trump campaign, but pointed out that 30 million of the users were Americans. Cambridge Analytica used the friends links to expand to the 50 million. A Cambridge Analytica employee Christopher Wylie is the whistleblower who just revealed how they had acquired this data. Facebook had, without informing the public, found out, and demanded that Cambridge Analytica erase their data, which they did not, since it was their money source.
Update: March 20: Alexander Nix, CEO of Cambridge Analytica, has been suspended since he has been tapped claiming he could use bribery blackmail, and prostitution blackmail. Facebook dropped 2.5% today. Lukoil also consulted Cambridge Analytica on how to influence American elections.
Facebook stock dropped almost 7% today, which is roughly a $35 billion loss to their current market value of $500 billion. Was it their association with Trump, lack of discovery of the Russian influence campaign, neglect in allowing hacking, not checking on the cancellation of their illegally obtained data, fear of Congressional limits on their use of members data, fear of non-disclosure of other hacks, or fear that members will privatize their data?
Ivanka Trump’s real estate husband, Jared Kushner, had the campaign portfolio of targeting ads to users of social media. He brought in Cambridge Analytica to do social media micro-targeting. They had $400 million and 1,500 people to work with for five months. For a scale on that, considering the 60 million votes that they got, that is about $7 per vote. Kushner is being investigated whether his targeting data were used by Russia’s social media influence campaign to also elect Trump.
The Trump attraction to Big Brother power has reappeared in “Extreme Vetting” for immigrants and their banning from seven Muslim countries. Would that such vetting had been used by Trump on his campaign leaders and on his White House and executive branch appointees.
Trump has also tried to centralize the statewide purging of voter rolls, to remove poorer and Democratic voters. Purging is a standard tool of dictators with fears of coups. Trump has the fantasy fear that there were 3 million to 5 million illegal votes cast. Fortunately, the states control voting, and would not cooperate to this most serious violation of state’s rights.
Trump is now demanding that states contribute their records and active cooperation in identifying, arresting, and turning over illegal immigrants. Sanctuary states and cities argue that since immigration enforcement is solely the job of the federal government, it is a violation of States’ Rights to require states to aid ICE in their enforcement. Trump’s campaign to deny federal funding and aid to sanctuary states and cities would be considered a big brother action.
Trump has threatened federal funding to the University of California since conservative actor and firebrand Milo Yanopolis was prevented from speaking at Berkeley, but because of unknown outsider demonstrations. Republicans have now abandoned Milo, due to his anti-Semitic comments.
Trump has also been purging the Department of Justice, the FBI, and intelligence agencies, due to his fears of imagined plots against him. Trump fears any investigation and has labeled them WITCH HUNTs.
Trump also fears all reputable newspapers and TV news except Rupert Murdoch’s Fox News are out to get him, as he has coined his FAKE NEWS label. “1984” was based on “doublethink”, where the truth and its opposite were both to be accepted. The victim of “1984”, Winston Smith, works for the Records Department in the Ministry of Truth. Trump’s administration has been active in removing Truth from Departments’ webpages and reports, especially about climate change and its effects. Trump claims everything he does as a Record setter against all presidents, or leaders anywhere, for all time.
In 1984, the Big Brother created an always present war on Oceania, which justified harsh measures. Trump has created wars by challenging all of our existing Trade and Military allies. Then he threatens and may soon cancel our denuclearization agreement with Iran, leading to who knows where. He has avoided negotiation with North Korea, in conflict with Rex Tillerson, until he got an opening, at which point he fired Tillerson to get complete credit for it. Trump has committed to a trillion dollar replacement or upgrade of our nuclear arsenal to make them more usable as a smaller step up from conventional weapons. There was also his statement that what was the use of having nuclear weapons if you couldn’t use them. That is the same argument that nuclear disarmament supporters use, but we fear Trump means just the opposite for it.
Amidst all of this, where is the check and balance by Congressional Republicans as a whole instead of just a few individuals?
All Hail Big Brother!