; Date: Wed Aug 07 2019
In both the Brexit campaign, the 2016 USA Presidential election, and other elections since, misinformation channeled through Facebook had a huge effect that we cannot measure because of the nature of Facebook. The news stream we're shown is custom generated for us, and nobody has a record of what was shown because the news stream disappears as soon as it's displayed. How can anyone validate claims whether Facebook was an accessory to election fraud?
How do we know whether our elections are being stolen? How do we measure the impact of fake news (real fake news, not what Trump calls fake news) on elections? The information Facebook shows us is not monitor-able, because it disappears as soon as it's shown to us and there's no independent validation. We could be shown illegal advertising and be unable to enforce any legal action.
A small example from several months ago is real estate companies targeting real estate ads in violation of fair housing laws. Facebook offers excellent demographic targeting for advertisements and including skin color or any other racial characteristic.
It's well known that just before certain elections, Facebook (and other social media platforms) was flooded with highly targeted advertising regarding the election. In the Brexit vote, certain areas of Great Britain are believed to have been flooded with false messages about Turkey seeking to join the EU (it isn't) which would mean a zillion Turks would suddenly be invading Great Britain.
In the 2016 USA Presidential we had a flood of confusing messages targeting Hillary Clinton with crazy claims, and all kinds of other ideas.
A key company - Cambridge Analytica - had illegally gathered demographic data about 87 million people (or more) by abusing loopholes in the Facebook API. Supposedly they'd collected over 5,000 data points for each person. With that data they could "model" (predict) which message would resonate with which person, and personally target individuals with customized advertising.
- Cambridge Analytica illegally kept a massive trove user data from Facebook, worked with Russians
- Cambridge Analyticas abuse of Facebooks data causing worldwide outrage at Facebook
Cambridge was hired to work on both Brexit and the 2016 USA Presidential elections. They worked closely with Russian agents who had built a system for injecting chosen messages into social media networks.
- Russia has released The Kraken on the Internet - The Young Turks
- Russia's Online Troll Army -- WGBH
- Russia's Propaganda Machine -- Vice News
- Trolling for Putin: Russia's information war explained - Agence France Presse
- Why are Russian trolls spreading online hoaxes in the U.S.?
- Russia’s disinformation campaign in Europe
- Facebook sold ads to Russian 'troll farm' (fake news outfit) during 2016 US election
The attached video is a TED talk by Carole Cadwalladr, a reporter working in the British press. She started researching this story following the Brexit vote. She went to an area of Wales that voted strongly to LEAVE even though the people are strongly pro-EU.
She found that the people there had been flooded with false messages about Turkey. Ads like this:
The information is completely false - and is obviously intended to stoke xenophobic fear reactions.
False advertising - so what?
The reporter points out that in Great Britain there are strict laws about campaign financing. But - the advertising dollars spent on Facebook and other social media platforms are not regulated, and it's a black box that regulators cannot access.
It's known that there were deep money shenanigans about a large amount of money laundered into the LEAVE campaign just before the Brexit election, money that clearly was spent on advertising.
According to British law, that right there is election fraud.
Further, there were close ties between the Trump campaign and the Brexit campaign and it was claimed that Brexit was a test run for capabilities used during the Trump campaign.