Silicon Valley Oligarchs are Messing With Your Mind

Mother Jones has some details:

On Election Day, political campaigns, candidates, consultants, and pollsters pay close attention to who votes and why—and so does Facebook. For the past six years, on every national Election Day, the social-networking behemoth has pushed out a tool—a high-profile button that proclaims “I’m Voting” or “I’m a Voter”—designed to encourage Facebook users to vote. Now, Facebook says it has finished fine-tuning the tool, and if all goes according to plan, on Tuesday many of its more than 150 million American users will feel a gentle but effective nudge to vote, courtesy of Mark Zuckerberg & Co. If past research is any guide, up to a few million more people will head to the polls partly because their Facebook friends encouraged them.

Yet the process by which Facebook has developed this tool—what the firm calls the “voter megaphone”—has not been very transparent, raising questions about its use and Facebook’s ability to influence elections. Moreover, while Facebook has been developing and promoting this tool, it has also been quietly conducting experiments on how the company’s actions can affect the voting behavior of its users.

The process starts with data mining the millions of Facebook pages, capturing the data you and your friends have posted on your pages. This data is combined in a large data file (big data) were it is munged and filtered and then revealing insights are extracted. Here are some examples that have been mined and processed:



Once Facebook knows a lot about you and your fellow cohorts it is easier to manipulate you. They now know which subjects you might respond too if they wanted to start a relationship to influence your vote.

The skill of the data miners is growing as they build better tools to capture billions of Twitter and Facebook messages, munge and filter them, and extract insightful information on your political and perhaps more importantly your buying habits.

While Facebooking and Twittering be aware you are being watched and can eventually be manipulated.

Our local left blogger extolls how the Internet is change how we get our information, but the real problem is are we getting the real facts or only the facts that the Silicon Valley Oligarchs want us to know?

About Russ Steele

Freelance writer and climate change blogger. Russ spent twenty years in the Air Force as a navigator specializing in electronics warfare and digital systems. After his service he was employed for sixteen years as concept developer for TRW, an aerospace and automotive company, and then was CEO of a non-profit Internet provider for 18 months. Russ's articles have appeared in Comstock's Business, Capitol Journal, Trailer Life, Monitoring Times, and Idaho Magazine.
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1 Response to Silicon Valley Oligarchs are Messing With Your Mind

  1. gjrebane says:

    It would be most interesting to see if, as a result of their attributing political leanings to FB users, what is the distribution of the nudges to vote that they send out. If someone can assure me of obtaining accurate results on who got such nudges, then I would be willing to make book on Zuckerberg’s project 😉


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