Digital technology as used in today’s campaigning

I just read the this article: Trump’s Digital Advantage is Freaking out Democratic Strategist.   It is a NYT’s opinion piece.

I know and have known about the use of collecting our data to sell us stuff.  The concern for me is that there is almost no way for an individual to stop having their self tracked and mined any more based on this article.  What is worse though than just having it used to sell me stuff is having it used as what clearly has become psych ops.  We are clearly in the subliminal suggestion pathway to influencing personality.

Steven Livingston, a professor of media and public affairs and director of the Institute for Data, Democracy and Politics at George Washington University, has been tracking this sub rosa electioneering in the current election cycle.

Livingston described “these digital shadow campaigns” as “analogous to and perhaps an actual digital manifestation of ‘dark money’ influence campaigns.” In addition, he continued,

Overwhelmingly, these pages and groups do not have ownership declarations or Facebook verifications. We simply do not know what other digital properties might be operated by common sources with the groups. There is money being spent but we don’t know the sources. It is unaccountable spending.

The article notes the difference in expenditures on digital processes between the Trump and Clinton campaign (it was big) and that the Trump campaign has been developing obstructive since. This is the point I present my political ad: Time for the 1% who are still on the left to start spending their money to combat the money infrastructure the right has built.  I’m talking to you Bloomberg and Steyer instead of for office.

This is how finely tuned it has gotten:

On Monday, Parscale boasted on the conservative website Townhall that Trump rallies are providing a gold mine of data for the 2020 election:

Out of more than 20,000 identified voters who came to a recent Trump rally in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, 57.9 percent did not have a history of voting for Republicans. Remarkably, 4,413 attendees didn’t even vote in the last election — a clear indication that President Trump is energizing Americans who were previously not engaged in politics.

Similar findings are coming out of other rallies, according to Parscale:

Nearly 22 percent of identified supporters at President Trump’s rally in Toledo, Ohio, were Democrats, and another 21 percent were independents. An astounding 15 percent of identified voters who saw the president speak in Battle Creek, Michigan, has not voted in any of the last four elections. In Hershey, Pennsylvania, just over 20 percent of identified voters at the rally were Democrats, and 18 percent were nonwhite.

That there are so many Democratic and independent supporters at Trump’s rallies just shocked me.  Maybe there is a case to be made for self identity not being reliable?

In a paper published this month, “The digital commercialization of US politics — 2020 and beyond,” Kathryn Montgomery, a professor of communications at American University, and Jeff Chester, executive director of the Center for Digital Democracy,

Technologies used for “identity resolution,” they write,

enable marketers — and political groups — to target and ‘reach real people’ with greater precision than ever before. Marketers are helping perfect a system that leverages and integrates, increasingly in real-time, consumer profile data with online behaviors to capture more granular profiles of individuals, including where they go, and what they do.

The authors go on to warn that “all of these developments are taking place, moreover, within a regulatory structure that is weak and largely ineffectual.”

Regarding protecting your self from such abuse:

Serge Egelman, a research director at Berkeley’s International Computer Science Institute and a co-author of the paper “50 Ways to Leak Your Data: An Exploration of Apps’ Circumvention of the Android Permissions System,” replied to my email:

Most users are likely of the impression that apps will only collect the personal data that they’re asked about in the ‘permissions dialogues’ that they encounter (i.e., pop-up notifications asking if it’s O.K. for an app to access certain data, such as location, address book contacts, photos, etc.).

These unsuspecting users were mistaken.

We discovered that there are “back channels” through which the same data is available without having to present the user with a permission dialogue.

Egelman noted that “from the user’s perspective, there’s literally no way of preventing it from happening or even knowing when it’s happening.” The expectation “that app users should be able to figure this all out and manage it is absolutely ludicrous.”

This gets us back to Cambridge Analytica and my posting regarding an interview on Fresh Air with Christopher Wylie. 

It is not just foreign influence via digital means we have to be concerned about, we have to be concerned about capitalism coming to own our souls in digital format to be used as a weapon against us.

Selfishness is the dominate rule of operation today.  We are obviously at the point where we can drive that part of our personality more effectively than ever before.  The question for the future is: Are we individually individual or are we created?  I’m old enough to have developed outside of digital influence on my un-mature brain.  But, we’re into generations who know no other environment other than digital manipulation.

When it was just books, print, you were free to form your own reality thus placing importance as you saw fit regarding emotion, morals, ideal etc.  Then came the spoken word.  One could more easily suggest the emotion, moral and ideal judgement.  But, still you had to visualize on your own.  Then came images tied to the spoken word.  Now, one could suggest completely how the entire scene should be made real.  Yet, still this was not constant.  Today, digital can provide it and make it 24/7.