In the early years of the Internet the New Yorker published a cartoon with two dogs in front of a computer. ‘On the Internet nobody knows you are a dog’, one dog explains to the other. There is some light-heartedness into it. On the free and happy web we all can presume & pretend that we are somebody else – males can be females, whites can go ethnic, dogs can be other dogs. We are all enabled to experiment with other roles. Which will enhance mutual empathy. Was the idea. It turned out differently. Think the pedophile pretending to be a sympathetic same-age companion. Think the busty blonde who likes to virtually turn on males, being a man her/himself. Not much empathy. Human nature is more inclined to dark conceit than two happy dogs once imagined. The same right now goes for the Internet itself – and for the giants who rule there.
It is certainly true that the Internet has given a clear and collective voice to many oppressed groups. That is a reason why autocratic regimes censure the social media as if their lives depend on it. However, the contemporary giants of the Net have transformed themselves above all into algorithmic predators that reap all the personal data we leave behind on ‘their’ Internet in order to bundle it cleverly and sell it to the highest bidding advertiser. Advertisers now can trace exactly the favorite brand of dog food those once anonymous dogs in front of a computer like most.
Cambridge Analytica goes a step further, not manipulating us as consumers but as citizens and voters. Political TV debates have become so 20th-century! – in the sense that they are far too generic to impress with razor-blade sharpness whatever target group. It works much better to approach say 4.000 Hispanics in a USA swing state who are leaning towards voting Clinton but hesitate, by sending them a video of Hillary back in 1996, where she mentions criminal super-predators; and then suggesting that she meant colored people. Delivering it all to the hesitating niche will effectively seed into their brains the idea that opting for Trump might not be such a bad idea after all. Trump used these political micro-marketing techniques of Cambridge Analytica. No one else but the four thousand selected one received the video. Highly effective, no public debate: end of democracy. It made Trump win. So did the Brexit part in the UK, using the same strategic services.
There are no innocent dogs left.
About the author:
Prof. Dr. Carl C.Rohde is a worldwide reputed trend watcher and cultural sociologist who distinguishes himself by his academic depth and by the broad scope of his empirical research projects. Rohde gives lectures and presentations all over the world — both in the academic circuit and in the business circuit.
Besides that, Carl Rohde leads www.scienceofthetime.com, a virtual network of market and trend researchers worldwide. Science of the time, is one of the leading trend watch and innovation research institutes worldwide and conducts the biggest international Youth Mentality trend research.