Wednesday, February 1, 2017

Connecting the dots

First off, a confession: I am one of those "radical militant librarians" who objected to the invasions of privacy that were part and parcel of the Patriot Act (http://www.nytimes.com/2005/12/11/us/nationalspecial3/at-fbi-frustration-over-limits-on-an-antiterror-law.html). Which is to say, I am a dyed-in-the-wool liberal. And while many who come here have probably figured that out, overall I've kept a fairly low political profile on this blog.

That ends today. So please feel free to skip over any of my posts that are not of interest ... I will give them an index label "Politics" so you can be forewarned. And if you are on the Kindred Spirits list and would prefer not to be associated with my particular brand of politics, just let me know and I'll remove your link from the list.

Onward.

Inspired by Dee Mallon over at her newly retitled blog Pattern and Outrage  (https://deemallon.wordpress.com/2017/01/31/h-is-for-humor-c-is-for-courage) and Mo's comment citing this article https://motherboard.vice.com/en_us/article/how-our-likes-helped-trump-win, I decided to put together a series of articles that have stuck in my mind over the past several months. You will note that some are mainstream media and some are not. Where possible, I've tried to corroborate facts, but the conclusions at the end are my own.

The first warning bell went off in my head when I read this New York Times op-ed piece in November (https://www.nytimes.com/2016/11/20/opinion/the-secret-agenda-of-a-facebook-quiz.html). In short, it pointed out how the Trump campaign used Facebook to win the election. This in particular was chilling: "One recent advertising product on Facebook is the so-called “dark post”: a newsfeed message seen by no one aside from the users being targeted. With the help of Cambridge Analytica, Mr. Trump’s digital team used dark posts to serve different ads to different potential voters, aiming to push the exact right buttons for the exact right people at the exact right times.”
 
More recently, an Internet meme purportedly by Heather Richardson at Boston College started making the rounds. I was able to find a verified version of it here: http://www.dallasnews.com/opinion/commentary/2017/01/31/americans-can-turn-tables-steve-bannons-shock-event. She warned that, like a magician’s sleight of hand, what you are looking at in terms of political activity such as the Immigration Ban, may actually be cover for another, more sinister event. 

Which brings me to this article in the Huffington Post http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/trump-fires-ice-acting-director_us_589004a0e4b02772c4e8e7db, which actually appeared before many in the more traditional media picked it up https://www.nytimes.com/2017/01/31/us/politics/thomas-homan-immigration-and-customs-enforcement.html?_r=0. Thomas Homan has been appointed the new head of ICE, which is responsible for deportation. This is what the Washington Post had to say about him in April 2016 https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/powerpost/wp/2016/04/25/meet-the-man-the-white-house-has-honored-for-deporting-illegal-immigrants/?utm_term=.e61a79da19c3

Here’s what I’m getting at. I’m pretty sure that advisors such as Steve Bannon have more on their minds than winning an election. For instance, all that psychometric data collected by Cambridge Analytica in 2016 could now be used to send “dark posts” to individuals who would be inclined to identify people they think might be illegal immigrants. Which is not to say that those people actually are illegal, as the recent chaos at national airports over the Executive Order on immigration clearly demonstrated. But even if purported "illegals" were eventually cleared, their lives would be significantly disrupted.

Is this a wild-eyed conspiracy theory? Or have I connected some dots that need to be explored?

I fear that those halcyon days of the FBI having to go through legal protocols to obtain personal data are long gone. Because if it is indeed true that the Cambridge Analytica data will be exploited by the Trump administration, what other nefarious ends might be realized? And how would we ever know?


16 comments:

Anonymous said...

Aloha, Liz.

I appreciate your well-written, thoughtful post.

Even if I didn't agree with you, I would be honored to be one of your kindred spirits.

I do, however, share many of your opinions. I also admire your methodical approach to researching and expressing your thoughts.

Gee, I'd never guess you were a librarian. Or actually, that you -are- a librarian. This post is a perfect example of what a great teacher and resource a librarian can be.

Hugs and thank for your great post.

Hunter



Mo Crow said...

everything we do online is accessible to the various algorthims that are being applied to the data we freely supply, every transaction, every like on Facebook, every response on every platform, these are very strange dark times, it is good to keep each other informed Thank you!

Liz Ackert said...

Hunter - Thank you for this reassuring comment. It means a lot!

And Mo - You are a librarian at heart and I value the many leads you have provided to me. Your words ring true and I fear for us all, even as I rise to your call of "Soul on deck!" (another great lead to Clarissa Pinkola Estes).

grace Forrest~Maestas said...

you are so

skilled

this is a great gift to me, one who is limited by BigPictureness

and i TRUST you...making it even more a GIFT.

Love....

Liz Ackert said...

Grace ... thank you ... I am humbled, but respectfully disagree that you are in any way limited. Indeed, I travel to Windthread to learn from your going.

Love back

Marti said...

Thank you Liz for connecting the dots, for providing information that can help serve as a map to navigate this Orwellian world we now find ourselves in. Now more than ever, we need to stay connected... here is a link that may prove useful to those wanting to move further into action:

https://www.indivisibleguide.com/

Liz Ackert said...

Thank you Marti ... a Washington Post article reported that there has been a significant uptick in political action (as anyone who has tried to call a member of Congress this week can attest). Having suggested means of action is valuable to those of us new to it.

Hazel said...

I'm very grateful for your librarian/liberal/linking self & pleased as punch to be a kindred spirit! Thank you for all of this. ox

Stephanie said...

Liz, I'm also grateful for what you are posting and sharing. It means so much. Thank you!

Liz Ackert said...

Hazel and Stephanie - Thank you for your support. There was something in me that insisted on putting this into writing, to see where we could be heading and to convince myself to act on it however I can.

Anonymous said...

Liz! thank you for modeling the kind of tracking that I, too, plan to do. I usually refrain from commenting until I have consumed all the cited articles (I've read most, but not all), but I'm in a rush and want to chime in a little. First, we might be watching the fall of democracy - happening in real time. I don't think there is a trace of conspiracy thinking about your thoughts. I, too, was very spooked by the 'shock event' article -- the notion of the EO about the 7 Muslim countries being such an event made sense to me... for a bunch of reasons. One, I marched in Boston on Sunday and came home pretty tired. I noticed that. Two, if they wanted the order to survive constitutional challenges, why would they have sloppily included a written priority status for Christians? They'd have a better case, otherwise. I am not one of those people that ascribe wily intelligence to DJT, so the blunders could be sheer incompetence, but it made me wonder. Yesterday, I sat in sickened anxiety for Tillerson's roll call. Is that what we are meant to be paying less attention to or is there something bigger and darker? Going to a neighborhood org.mtg. tonight. We DO need resources that are off-line for all the reasons you say. Sorry to go on so. But again, I support this. We need each other more than ever. And now off to my writing class! love

Liz Ackert said...

Thanks Dee ... together we rise

Love back

Dana said...

I am proud to be included among your kindred spirits, Liz! Thank you for this troubling and illuminating post.

Liz Ackert said...

Likewise, thank you for your thoughts over at Raven and Sparrow. I feel this incredible need to read and write ... seeking clarity

Velma Bolyard said...

I just love the thorough work you've done here. I am convinced that on every level this new administration is just plain bad. On every level, in every way, I feel like we're in a Tolkien story.

Liz Ackert said...

Velma - The Lord of the Rings has long been my most cherished book. And yes, Mordor has been much on my mind ... as has Fellowship. Thank you for your presence here.