Tag Archives: Trump

Profile of “genius” Parscale, who “won” for Trump & the Facebook political influence juggernaut

Parscale — and every political consultant in a similar situation — is doing this interview to build his business. The introduction of sophisticated digital tools to the process of electing candidates has resulted in a bumper crop of people claiming that they have mastered this inscrutable system and that you should hire them.

Fleshed out, Parscale is the man behind the Trump campaign’s digital media efforts in 2016. He was hired to create a website for $1,500 (as he explained in that “60 Minutes” interview) and then his role expanded until he was managing tens of millions of dollars intended to promote the presidential candidate online.

The point of the interview was, in part, to serve as a profile of Parscale but, more broadly, to explain the primary way in which those millions were spent. Per Parscale’s accounting, that was largely on Facebook advertising. Trump’s team advertised on other platforms, too, but “Facebook was the 500-pound gorilla, 80 percent of the budget kind of thing,” Parscale said.

If you do a search for Brad Parscale’s appearance on “60 Minutes,” the first thing that pops up above the results as of Monday morning is an ad for Brad Parscale. And that, in a nutshell, is Brad Parscale.

Right after the campaign, it was the firm Cambridge Analytica that was making this case, arguing that its black-box analysis of the psychology of American voters allowed Trump to target specific sorts of people with ads that dug deep into their brains to trigger a response. The company (owned in part by the family of Robert Mercer, which was in other ways essential to Trump’s success) wanted to convince future candidates that they could work their magic to get them elected, too.

To “60 Minutes,” Parscale dismissed that claim — in part because he was in the midst of claiming that he was the one with the magic touch. He didn’t think Cambridge Analytica’s system of creating “psychographic” profiles of people was sinister, he said — he just didn’t think it worked.

Which is a simply bizarre claim in the broader context. It isn’t that Parscale doesn’t think that building profiles of people to target ads to them doesn’t work. It’s that Parscale doesn’t seem to realize that this is basically what Facebook was doing for him, in real-time.

By its very nature, Facebook does a more complete and more robust version of what Cambridge Analytica claims to accomplish. In 2014, we explained how Facebook’s political tools work, how it combines data about what you’ve clicked with outside consumer data to get as complete a picture of who you are and what you like as anything that exists. But then it overlays the ability to advertise specific things to specific people — and to test and refine and improve on those ads.

This is what Parscale was describing to “60 Minutes” — not his genius, but Facebook’s. He shows the nifty tricks that you can do with Facebook, A/B testing (as the process is known) different versions of ads with different photos and ads that allow the most effective to quickly rise to the surface. He clearly used all of those secret buttons, clicks and technology that he sought, leveraging Facebook’s deep sense of its individual users and tools to target them. Stepping back, Parscale comes off like the guy who hires LeBron James to play on his team in a 3-on-3 basketball tournament and then brags about his capable coaching. He’s an ad buyer, who lets the platform — say, on Google, when you search for his name — do the work.

The takeaway from the “60 Minutes” interview is simple. Facebook is a juggernaut that’s probably more influential in politics than it realizes itself. (See this New York magazine article to that end.)

Parscale says that his wife likes to say that “[he] was thrown into the Super Bowl, never played a game and won.” Right. It’s just that, in that example, he’s neither Tom Brady nor Bill Belichick. At best, he’s the guy who decided to hire them.

Full story ‘60 Minutes’ profiles the genius who won Trump’s campaign: Facebook https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/politics/wp/2017/10/09/60-minutes-profiles-the-genius-who-won-trumps-campaign-facebook/?utm_term=.5c686f2463e8

Is Kosinski “Tesla” to Nix’s “Marconi” for Big Data Psychographic Profiling?

Data Driven Democracy Where Opinions, Policies or Convictions Don’t Matter Just The Targeted Message on Facebook Dark Posts.

Cambridge Analytica (Steve Bannon, Board Member) owned by SCL (Strategic Communication Laboratories) – the self styled “premier election management agency” – and how they “helped” Trump, Farage, Brexit, Cruz, Ukraine, Nigeria, Nepal & Afghanistan influence outcomes using data modelling and psychographic profiling.

I HAD never heard of Mr. Kosinski until I read an article in Motherboard last week. The incredibly interesting read entitled The Data That Turned the World Upside Down was written by Hannes Grassegger and Mikael Krogerus who work for Das Magazin with additional research by Paul-Olivier Dehaye.

It discusses a series of intersections between the work of Mr. Kosinski, a vaguely sinister guy called Alexander James Ashburner Nix, CEO of Cambridge Analytica (board member Steve “Ahem” Bannon) and a seemingly innocuous chap called (in 2014) Aleksandr Kogan (now quite unbelievable known as Dr. Spectre (seriously)) with associations to a definitely sinister company called SCL, or Strategic Communication Laboratories who describe themselves as “the premier election management agency”.

The main points are this, but I strongly recommend that you read the original article:

  1. Kosinski and fellow student David Stillwell use data from a Facebook application called MyPersonality, that Stilwell developed in 2007, to create models from “personality profile” data acquired from users who opt-in to share their app answers with researchers. Kosinski and Stillwell are both doctoral candidates studying together in Cambridge University at the Psychometrics Centre;
  2. The MyPersonality app is an unexpected hit with millions of people submitting answers;
  3. They find that remarkably reliable deductions could be drawn from simple online actions. For example, men who “liked” the cosmetics brand MAC were slightly more likely to be gay; one of the best indicators for heterosexuality was “liking” Wu-Tang Clan. Followers of Lady Gaga were most probably extroverts, while those who “liked” philosophy tended to be introverts;
  4. In 2012, Kosinski proved that on the basis of an average of 68 Facebook “likes” by a user, it was possible to predict their skin color (with 95 percent accuracy), their sexual orientation (88 percent accuracy), and their affiliation to the Democratic or Republican party (85 percent);
  5. Kosinski continued to work on the models before long, he was able to evaluate a person better than the average work colleague, merely on the basis of ten Facebook “likes.” Seventy “likes” were enough to outdo what a person’s friends knew, 150 what their parents knew, and 300 “likes” what their partner knew. More “likes” could even surpass what a person thought they knew about themselves;
  6. On the day that Kosinski published these findings, he received two phone calls. The threat of a lawsuit and a job offer. Both from Facebook;
  7. Around this time, in early 2014, Kosinski was approached by a young assistant professor in the psychology department called Aleksandr Kogan. He said he was inquiring on behalf of a company that was interested in Kosinski’s method, and wanted to access the MyPersonality database. Kogan wasn’t at liberty to reveal for what purpose; he was bound to secrecy;
  8. Kogan revealed the name of the company he was representing: SCL, or Strategic Communication Laboratories;
  9. Kosinski came to suspect that Kogan and a company that he had formed might have reproduced the Facebook “Likes”-based Big Five measurement tool in order to sell it to this election-influencing firm;
  10. Cambridge Analytica subsequently acted for Farage in the Brexit campaign and Republican Ted Cruz then they were hired by Trump;
  11. Cambridge Analytica buys personal data from a range of different sources, like land registries, automotive data, shopping data, bonus cards, club memberships, what magazines you read, what churches you attend. Nix displays the logos of globally active data brokers like Acxiom and Experian—in the US, almost all personal data is for sale. For example, if you want to know where Jewish women live, you can simply buy this information, phone numbers included. Now Cambridge Analytica aggregates this data with the electoral rolls of the Republican party and online data and calculates a Big Five personality profile. Digital footprints suddenly become real people with fears, needs, interests, and residential addresses;
  12. Trump’s striking inconsistencies, his much-criticized fickleness, and the resulting array of contradictory messages, suddenly turned out to be his great asset: a different message for every voter. The notion that Trump acted like a perfectly opportunistic algorithm following audience reactions is something the mathematician Cathy O’Neil observed in August 2016;
  13. Why did he behave like this?;
  14. “Pretty much every message that Trump put out was data-driven,” Alexander Nix remembers. On the day of the third presidential debate between Trump and Clinton, Trump’s team tested 175,000 different ad variations for his arguments, in order to find the right versions above all via Facebook. The messages differed for the most part only in microscopic details, in order to target the recipients in the optimal psychological way: different headings, colors, captions, with a photo or video. This fine-tuning reaches all the way down to the smallest groups, Nix explained in an interview with us. “We can address villages or apartment blocks in a targeted way. Even individuals.”;
  15. When did having an opinion or a conviction matter in a “data driven” democracy – it certainly did not seem to matter to Trump;
  16. In the Miami district of Little Haiti, for instance, Trump’s campaign provided inhabitants with news about the failure of the Clinton Foundation following the earthquake in Haiti, in order to keep them from voting for Hillary Clinton. This was one of the goals: to keep potential Clinton voters (which include wavering left-wingers, African-Americans, and young women) away from the ballot box, to “suppress” their vote, as one senior campaign official told Bloomberg in the weeks before the election. These “dark posts” – sponsored news-feed-style ads in Facebook timelines that can only be seen by users with specific profiles – seem to have been highly significant in Trump’s election;
  17. In a statement after the German publication of this article, a Cambridge Analytica spokesperson said, “Cambridge Analytica does not use data from Facebook. It has had no dealings with Dr. Michal Kosinski. It does not subcontract research. It does not use the same methodology. Psychographics was hardly used at all. Cambridge Analytica did not engage in efforts to discourage any Americans from casting their vote in the presidential election. Its efforts were solely directed towards increasing the number of voters in the election.”;
  18. Confusingly the Cambridge Analytica website states “Powered by smarter data modeling At Cambridge Analytica we use data modeling and psychographic profiling to grow audiences, identify key influencers, and connect with people in ways that move them to action. Our unique data sets and unparalleled modeling techniques help organizations across America build better relationships with their target audience across all media platforms.”

ENDS

All The Presidents’ Messes

It is a convenient attitude after marshalling a global coalition (twice) for intervention in Kuwait (Gulf War 1) and again in Iraq (Gulf War 2) for the purposes of US energy security that Trump now wishes to pursue a kind of “splendid isolationist” foreign policy after his predecessors have left behind a not so splendid mess. A mess which he is now doing his best to compound.

These previous US initiated actions have spiralled into the regional mess we now have in the Middle East, North Africa and Southern Europe. Trumpites think we should all applaude them now for leaving everyone else to handle the social fallout of their actions even those of us who were not part of their pair of “grand coalitions”.

The Ongoing Erosion of US Prestige & Influence

The Trumpites view that their outcome will be a glory filled jingoistic romanticised dreamland is delusional. The outcome of Trump will be the further erosion of US influence and prestige globally as the US (Democrat and Republican) for some reason best known to themselves continue to hand Russia, China and Iran the initiative and like always we “over here” [Europe] pick up most of their bill (socially).

I wonder how prepared Trump supporters are for sectarian domestic warfare instead of their preferred modus operandi of taking a giant shit on everyone from a great distance.

Selective hearing is one thing when it comes to “hearing” the reality of past US foreign policy disasters. Selective memory to justify a US foreign policy of “splendid isolation” is another thing entirely.

Trumpites Are Unprepared For The Outcomes That They Will Cause

Not content with splitting external regions in two the US has elected Trump after some minor civil unrest and a number of tragic radical Islamist atrocities and divided their own country. But the numbers of deaths on US soil are tiny in relative terms and Trumpites think that they are ready for domestic sectarian strife that Trump policies will inevitably lead to – if pursued.

The election of Trump is in reaction to how many deaths from terrorist attacks on US soil? The US cannot handle terrorism on their own soil without making wildly disproportionate decisions.

The US hasn’t had a serious conflict on their soil since the Civil War. Since then it has all been one sided affairs for them locally. The Spanish-American War, the native American Indian genocide and a few spats with Mexico.

Over-Simplification & Generalisation

Among all the pro-Trump comments there is a common theme of over-simplification and generalising. It is possible to be outraged and hold a contrary opinion to the mainstream without relying on prejudice, racism or extremism.

It is also possible to hold composite opinions that are not contradictory. I am and continue to be a vocal opponent (who regularly has taken the time to write these opinions down and publish them) of political correctness, mass migration and open door policies, the undermining of Western cultural values, radical Islam, sharia law, “states within states” groups who refuse to assimilate and expect everyone to cater to their often radical demands.

All Values Can Be Accommodated 

In order to aggressively assert your values you do not have to destroy the values and beliefs of others or go to war with conflicting ideologies.

I held a position of Special Advisor – Security Affairs (Oman, Qatar, United Arab Emirates, Yemen) Undisclosed – NGO (Mass Migration Predictive Profiling – Radicalisation Threats). My focus was on rigour in vetting and processing immigrants along appropriate lines using appropriate methods, not blanket bans.

My blog is full of content that places my opinion on the record – from November 2015 “Weak-willed West Needs To Aggressively Assert Its Values“:

* “We can fret about the potential rise of Islamic extremism in this country and fool ourselves into thinking that we are immune. But why should we be uniquely exempt from other European countries? Extremism doesn’t even have to be violent to have an impact. Extremism can be seen in Muslim clerics who, post-‘Charlie Hebdo’, threatened prosecution of anyone who reprinted the offending cartoons. Extremism is seen on Irish campuses where Sharia-spouting whackjobs are given a round of applause while anyone espousing liberal, Western values is shouted down as a racist – assuming they are allowed to speak in the first place. The terrifying truth is not the strength of ISIL’s convictions, but the weakness of ours. Put simply, they want it more than we do and until we start to aggressively assert Western values in Western countries, is it any wonder that they despise us? Frankly, I can’t say I blame them.”

* (Re-blogged from an article in The Irish Independent by Ian O’Doherty)

Clever Interventions Are Far More Effective Than Populist Broad Brush Strokes

It is a highly complex world with a highly complex security problem. A history lesson and the roots of the current mess is not possible here. But briefly the US finds itself dealing with large scale domestic socio-economic problems; Europe is in a monetary, economic and cultural crisis; social cohesion has disintegrated in large parts of the Middle East and North Africa.

There are rising far right groups in Europe and the US has elected a man with explicit alt-right sympathies as President. Subtlety and diplomacy and clever interventions are far more effective than broad brush strokes like Trump has begun to take. The majority only see the headlines and do not care to or want to dig deeper. A man and a set of policies that appeal to populist sentiment are a dangerous combination.

Excerpt from “The Future of Populism in the Trump Era” by Paul Wayne:

“Already emboldened by the Brexit vote in June, the election of “an outsider” as President of the world’s oldest democracy has given particularly the core of Europe’s right-wing populist parties a rather vainglorious halo. These three—France’s Marine LePen, the Netherlands’ Geert Wilders, and Germany’s Frauke Petry—stand to create a political environment which could ultimately eclipse the European project. All in 2017, the same year in which the Union plans to celebrate its very founding with the 60th anniversary of the Treaty of Rome. The European Union can survive Brexit. Frexit—Marine LePen’s goal in her planned referendum on EU membership—would be Europe’s death knell.”

Two Party System – Universally Awful

The US is the architect of its own problems. I detest the Republican Party and the Democratic Party. Clinton was an awful candidate. Trump was an awful candidate. But both represent exactly what the USA has become. A polarised, corrupted dystopia who regularly foment problems internationally and when it does not work out then walk away and leave a sorry mess behind them.

All The Presidents Messes

In my lifetime the American people have elected Nixon (Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia), Ford (by accident), Carter (Iranian Revolution & Iran Hostage debacle), Reagan (Funded the Taliban / Iran-Contra Affair / Nicaragua / El Salvador / Guatemala), Bush the first (Gulf War I), Clinton (Somalia, Rwanda, Haiti / Israel-Palestine / Ethnic Wars in Europe – Croats, Serbs and Bosnian Muslims / Kosovo & Albania), Bush the Second (Iraq / Afghanistan), Obama (IRANDEAL, global appeasement, the relatively unopposed rise of ISIS, and the disintegration of Syria and Libya and Egypt as a result of US Foreign Policy failures) and now Trump.

In every case each of these presidents presided over a root cause of the current problem. The US does not have a good record. Trump supporters cite the border control, internal dissent and socio-economic problems as the main reasons for justifying a man like Trump yet most of his actions are having global fallout.

Always The Right Man, Until They Are Not

The US electorate who support the winning candidate always declare that they have elected the right man until he is not the right man and then they elect the right man again until he is not.

I do hope that they get it right soon because to date they keep getting it wrong, at their own and everyone else’s expense.

When the “Muslim” issue is “discussed” with Trumpites they will trot out the history of Muslim conquest and Crusader comparisons in terms of scale. It is a basic piece to any SME on History but it will like all base line rhetoric be offered as the lowest common denominator response masquerading as knoweldge instead of evolving the debate in to mature rather than reactionary territory.

“Small Nation, Small Thinking” But Wider Experience 

Trumpites have referred to me and my opinions as being the result of being an inhabitant of a ‘small nation’ with “small thinking”.

Next week I will travel to the 27th Muslim country that I have visited for work and / or pleasure. How many Americans have been outside their state let alone their country?

I can tell you. Of the 311 million U.S. residents, there are over 109 million valid U.S. passports in circulation according to the State Department. The real number of Americans that actually traveled (took trips) overseas in 2009 for either business or leisure, was about 15.5 million —or just five percent of the nation’s 311 million residents.

If you take the jet setting HNWI’s traveling ways into account less than 14.6 million Americans actually traveled overseas in 2009 — maybe as low as just 11.6 million, or about 3.5% of all U.S. residents.

America’s most popular overseas countries are: England (9% of all trips), France (7%), Italy (7%), Germany (5%), Dominican Republic (5%), Jamaica (5%), Japan (4%), China (4%), India (4%) and Spain (4%). Other significant countries visited include: Bahamas (3%) and Costa Rica (3%).

With just six percent of Americans trips going to the Middle East, and even fewer, just three percent, visiting the whole continent of Africa, and two percent going to Australia/New Zealand.

The US is a nation where most of the population and certainly most of the Trump supporters have never seen first hand many of the places which they hold aggressively contrary opinions toward.

For a nation where remarkably few of the residents have ever set foot in or spoke to a citizen of these countries yet seem to know all about their motivations and traditions it is amusing to me that according to Trumpites that I should take my “small nation” thinking and replace it with the opinions of insular Americans.

Amusing because the majority of them derive their opinions from second hand biased TV & radio commentators, and politicians rather than first hand experience.

Well that’s just lazy isn’t it really?

“Self Informed” Rather Than “Externally Conditioned” 

Americans who wish to mouth off about culture and integration (Reds & Blues) should try visiting some of these places and see the root causes for immigration or the effect of their past “right man at the time” presidents’ failed foreign policies.

A Trumpite responded in reply to this suggestion of taking time to travel and talk to Muslims in affected countries to gain a wider understanding by quoting (knowingly or not) the late comedian Chris Farley in the movie “Tommy Boy” that:

“Of course, I can get a hell of a good look at a T-Bone steak by sticking my head up a bull’s ass, but I’d rather take the butcher’s word for it.”

To which I replied “Well you couldn’t do that with Trump anyway pal cos his head is already up his own ass – plan B I guess”.

END

Take Action To Reverse The Present Trend Of The Normalisation of the Abnormal

Talk is cheap, too many people “lip service” this man Trump and his racist cronies’ extremism and yet do nothing.

SELF IMPOSED BAN IN SOLIDARITY WITH OUR MUSLIM BROTHERS & SISTERS

Dear Ryan,

In light of the appalling actions of Mr. and his “colleagues” with respect to the Muslim & Refugee ban I am unable to accept your kind to attend InterConnect in this March. Professionally, I am saddened by this but my moral compass and my beliefs concerning the importance of human decency, tolerance, respect, freedom, and civil liberties outweigh my ambitions. While my self imposed ban will have zero effect on this disgusting by POTUS, to do nothing is not an for me and if enough people act in their own small way we will reverse the present trend of the normalisation of the abnormal.

Is Mise Le Meas,

Graham Joseph Penrose

INVITATION:

Graham, you know IoT, and it shows.

You have been selected to join the IBM InterConnect Social VIP program, a fantastic opportunity for you to meet and share your perspective with a select group of influential peers. This expense-paid invitation to IBM InterConnect includes airfare, lodging at the beautiful Mandalay Bay/Delano Hotel in Las Vegas, InterConnect conference pass (and VIP access) and a lot of fun extras:

●        Networking meet-ups with fellow social VIPs and IBM executives
●        Reserved seating
●        Premium lounge areas
●        Preferred lodging
●        Exclusive access to IBM Subject Matter Experts
●        Invite-only events that only Vegas can offer

Best of all, you’re the star of this program. We want to add your valuable and unique point of view to the social discussion at IBM InterConnect 2017. Your voice in the form of blogs, tweets, video and more will be featured prominently throughout the InterConnect digital experience.

Please respond to this invitation by Thursday, January 12. Ask us any questions you may have about the event or your participation. We’re looking forward to getting to know you better!

Remember: This offer is non-transferable and only for you. We want YOU at InterConnect 2017!

Sincerely,
IBM Systems Social Program Lead

ENDS

A Theme Song For The Inauguration

I guess everyone who loves music holds a particular place in their heart for the music of the decade that was the soundtrack to their youth. I certainly do and for me that decade was the 1980’s.

I am writing this with the “Absolute 80s” radio station playing on Sky in the background. The station that “celebrates the music of 1980, 1989 and the 8 years in between”. Godley & Creme “Under Your Thumb” is on at the moment. They also directed videos for 80s icons Ultravox, The Police, Duran Duran and Frankie Goes to Hollywood.

It was a huge decade for music. It’s importance has been magnified by the untimely passing of legends Prince and George Michael who began their careers in the 80s. Bowie of course also passed, he had 80s classics like “China Girl”, “Modern Love”, Loving The Alien”, “Ashes to Ashes”, “Fashion”, “Under Pressure” (with Queen), “Cat People”, “Lets Dance”, “Blue Jean”, “Absolute Beginners” and the soundtrack to Live Aid “Dancing In The Street” with Mick Jagger. Others like Glenn Frey of The Eagles, who launched his solo career in the 80s, passed too.

But I am not writing this as some music journo to recite a list of artists and hits and milestones. I am writing it because it is nostalgic for me to do so. And with the death of these music heroes of mine it has reminded me of my mortality and how quickly time passes. It also makes me think more often these days “that youth is wasted on the young”. It was wasted on me I think.

Music always informs the mood, sets the tone, expresses in art that which is happening in our everyday lives. Tomorrow Trump gets inaugurated and I dedicate this lyric excerpt and video to that event. To replace the #MAGA hashtag I propose the #TINA one. #Peace

“A little piece of you, The little peace in me will die, This is not America”