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Bannon wanted 'weapons for a culture war', says Cambridge Analytica whistleblower – live Cambridge Analytica whistleblower appears before Senate – as it happened
(about 1 hour later)
Thanks for joining us for our live coverage of Christopher Wylie’s appearance before the Senate judiciary committee.Thanks for joining us for our live coverage of Christopher Wylie’s appearance before the Senate judiciary committee.
For close observers of the Cambridge Analytica story, there was little new information disclosed in this hearing. Since going public in the Observer in March, Wylie has spoken to numerous media outlets and testified to Parliament, so much of what he said today was familiar.For close observers of the Cambridge Analytica story, there was little new information disclosed in this hearing. Since going public in the Observer in March, Wylie has spoken to numerous media outlets and testified to Parliament, so much of what he said today was familiar.
And while both Jamison and Hersh may have useful contributions to the debate about regulating social media and political advertisements, their presence at today’s seemed largely designed to allow Republican interlocutors to talk about something other than Cambridge Analytica.And while both Jamison and Hersh may have useful contributions to the debate about regulating social media and political advertisements, their presence at today’s seemed largely designed to allow Republican interlocutors to talk about something other than Cambridge Analytica.
Still, Wylie is an effective communicator about the complexities of data and privacy, and his remarks on the difficulty of having true informed consent when it comes to internet platforms are important. It’s also well worth keeping in mind that political scientists like Hersh are skeptical about claims being made about the efficacy of psychographic micro-targeting.Still, Wylie is an effective communicator about the complexities of data and privacy, and his remarks on the difficulty of having true informed consent when it comes to internet platforms are important. It’s also well worth keeping in mind that political scientists like Hersh are skeptical about claims being made about the efficacy of psychographic micro-targeting.
We’ll have a full report on the day’s proceedings from my colleague Olivia Solon shortly.We’ll have a full report on the day’s proceedings from my colleague Olivia Solon shortly.
And we’re done! Tillis closes out by entering articles about the Obama campaigns use of data into the record.And we’re done! Tillis closes out by entering articles about the Obama campaigns use of data into the record.
Tillis: We can talk about all the bad [social media platforms] have done, but I can also talk about the good they have done in crowdsourcing and preventing suicides.Tillis: We can talk about all the bad [social media platforms] have done, but I can also talk about the good they have done in crowdsourcing and preventing suicides.
Klobuchar on the Facebook algorithm: The message I’m getting is that if you want to do a moderate, policy based post, you better pay to promote it. But if you do something really partisan, it will get a lot of engagement.Klobuchar on the Facebook algorithm: The message I’m getting is that if you want to do a moderate, policy based post, you better pay to promote it. But if you do something really partisan, it will get a lot of engagement.
Klobuchar is asking about the power of FB’s algorithms to suppress or promote speech.Klobuchar is asking about the power of FB’s algorithms to suppress or promote speech.
Wylie: What you’re talking about is distortion in the information that is available to people. Notes that distortion in other areas, like the financial markets, is regulated.Wylie: What you’re talking about is distortion in the information that is available to people. Notes that distortion in other areas, like the financial markets, is regulated.
Klobuchar: What do we know about the scope of Facebook’s data problem? How many more Cambridge Analyticas are out there?Klobuchar: What do we know about the scope of Facebook’s data problem? How many more Cambridge Analyticas are out there?
Wylie: Only Facebook knows. He notes that Facebook threatened to sue the Guardian and banned him from the platform.Wylie: Only Facebook knows. He notes that Facebook threatened to sue the Guardian and banned him from the platform.
“We don’t require car companies to make unsafe cars and just put terms and conditions on the outside... We have rules that require safety and to put people first... In the 21st century it is nearly impossible for people to be functional without the use of the internet, so there should be some degree of accountability and oversight.”“We don’t require car companies to make unsafe cars and just put terms and conditions on the outside... We have rules that require safety and to put people first... In the 21st century it is nearly impossible for people to be functional without the use of the internet, so there should be some degree of accountability and oversight.”
Wylie: I never directly communicated with Facebook about that project until I left the company. My understanding is that Aleksandr Kogan did communicate with Facebook.Wylie: I never directly communicated with Facebook about that project until I left the company. My understanding is that Aleksandr Kogan did communicate with Facebook.
Blumenthal: In my questioning of Zuckerberg, I showed him the terms of service that showed Facebook was on notice of what Kogan was collecting.Blumenthal: In my questioning of Zuckerberg, I showed him the terms of service that showed Facebook was on notice of what Kogan was collecting.
Wylie: What I do know is that if you set up an app on FB, you have to submit the terms of service for review. So Facebook was notified, whether or not they bothered to read the terms and conditions, sort of like how many users don’t read the ToS, is another matter.Wylie: What I do know is that if you set up an app on FB, you have to submit the terms of service for review. So Facebook was notified, whether or not they bothered to read the terms and conditions, sort of like how many users don’t read the ToS, is another matter.
Blumenthal: Did CA provide “in kind” services to US candidates?Blumenthal: Did CA provide “in kind” services to US candidates?
Wylie says not that he knows of, but that Mercer’s investment in the firm made it possible for CA to charge less for services than it would have.Wylie says not that he knows of, but that Mercer’s investment in the firm made it possible for CA to charge less for services than it would have.
Blumenthal is suggesting that this could be a non-disclosed campaign donation.Blumenthal is suggesting that this could be a non-disclosed campaign donation.
Wylie says this was an “ancillary benefit” of Mercer’s investments, such that his money could support CA’s clients without being reported as a donation.Wylie says this was an “ancillary benefit” of Mercer’s investments, such that his money could support CA’s clients without being reported as a donation.
Whitehouse is now asking about an individual who played a key role in connecting CA with BlackCube, and says she’s the same person who connected the Nigeria project and LeaveEU.Whitehouse is now asking about an individual who played a key role in connecting CA with BlackCube, and says she’s the same person who connected the Nigeria project and LeaveEU.
Wylie: The person you are referencing played a role in setting up the activity in Nigeria, which involved hacked material.Wylie: The person you are referencing played a role in setting up the activity in Nigeria, which involved hacked material.
Whitehouse says this was Black Cube, the Israeli firm.Whitehouse says this was Black Cube, the Israeli firm.
Wylie: She made introductions between a group of Israelis and SCL. Wylie says Whitehouse needs to ask CA about whether this was Black Cube.Wylie: She made introductions between a group of Israelis and SCL. Wylie says Whitehouse needs to ask CA about whether this was Black Cube.
Whitehouse is asking about the “overspending scheme” by one of the pro-Brexit campaigns, VoteLeave.Whitehouse is asking about the “overspending scheme” by one of the pro-Brexit campaigns, VoteLeave.
Whitehouse: Is it true that CA had zero role in the Brexit referendum?Whitehouse: Is it true that CA had zero role in the Brexit referendum?
Wylie: I don’t agree with that because AIQ was set up to service Cambridge Analytica and SCL. “AIQ was only set up to service SCL and Cambridge Analytica.” To say that CA didn’t have any role of infuence on Brexit is looking at it too narrowly.Wylie: I don’t agree with that because AIQ was set up to service Cambridge Analytica and SCL. “AIQ was only set up to service SCL and Cambridge Analytica.” To say that CA didn’t have any role of infuence on Brexit is looking at it too narrowly.
And we’re back for a second round of questioning, starting with Senator Whitehouse, who is kicking us off by asking about Brexist and Aggregate IQ.And we’re back for a second round of questioning, starting with Senator Whitehouse, who is kicking us off by asking about Brexist and Aggregate IQ.
While we’re waiting for the hearing to recommence... the president of the European parliament just announced that Mark Zuckerberg has agreed to appear at a closed-door meeting with MEPs in Brussels.While we’re waiting for the hearing to recommence... the president of the European parliament just announced that Mark Zuckerberg has agreed to appear at a closed-door meeting with MEPs in Brussels.
This decision is likely to only further anger the UK parliament, which has repeatedly called on the CEO to appear. MPs have gone so far as to threaten Zuckerberg with issuing a formal summons, so if Zuckerberg does travel to Brussels next week, we imagine he won’t be flying through Heathrow.This decision is likely to only further anger the UK parliament, which has repeatedly called on the CEO to appear. MPs have gone so far as to threaten Zuckerberg with issuing a formal summons, so if Zuckerberg does travel to Brussels next week, we imagine he won’t be flying through Heathrow.
We’re taking a quick recess so the senators can vote on something. But referring back to Kennedy’s point on censorship: Facebook can and does censor what you see on the platform. Some of this censorship occurs automatically, through algorithms that promote certain posts while hiding others, depending on the various signals that Facebook uses to rank News Feed posts. Other censorship is based on the content of posts, and Facebook has only recently begun to be more transparent about how it determines what content is and is not allowed.We’re taking a quick recess so the senators can vote on something. But referring back to Kennedy’s point on censorship: Facebook can and does censor what you see on the platform. Some of this censorship occurs automatically, through algorithms that promote certain posts while hiding others, depending on the various signals that Facebook uses to rank News Feed posts. Other censorship is based on the content of posts, and Facebook has only recently begun to be more transparent about how it determines what content is and is not allowed.
Hersh: We have a basic human response that we are attracted to provocation and extremism, and what the platforms are doing is promoting that attraction. It’s about what we want.Hersh: We have a basic human response that we are attracted to provocation and extremism, and what the platforms are doing is promoting that attraction. It’s about what we want.
Kennedy: “Here’s the problem, we can all agree that poison is being spread on social media. Here’s the tough part: define poison. I don’t want Facebook censoring what I see.”Kennedy: “Here’s the problem, we can all agree that poison is being spread on social media. Here’s the tough part: define poison. I don’t want Facebook censoring what I see.”