On This Episode…

Concerns about personal information sharing is all over the news! Who is doing it?  Why? Was it legal? Craig, Matt and Ken unpack all the hype about Cambridge Analytica, Google. FB, Organizing for America etc.  

Obama for America — got all the data on everyone from FB, but Cambridge Analytica was not that good

There are companies that work to keep your information secure by immediately anonymizing all interactions. Others work not only to collect your information but actively sell it because you are their product.

Be careful with what you share and with who you share it. Remember that anything is hackable — systems are so complex that keeping them safe requires a huge amount of attention.


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Below is a rush transcript of this segment, it might contain errors.


Airing date: 03/28/2018


What Was Facebook Doing – Cambridge Analytica – How Do Campaigns Use The Info



Craig Peterson: [00:00:00] Hi Craig Peterson here. And this morning we got a bit of an inside scoop. Now you know me as the tech guy right. I’ve been doing technology now for many, many, many, many decades. Wow. I guess I’m getting old. But this morning I got on the radio and one of the show hosts was involved directly with politics, with data mining, with reaching out to voters. Been involved with a lot of campaigns. So we had a very interesting discussion about Cambridge Analytica and Facebook. What are they doing? Is this new? What the heck? What is it all about? So this morning with Ken and Matt. Here we go.


Matt Gagnon: [00:00:42] 7:38 on a Wednesday means it is time for Craig Peterson our tech guru who joins us at this time every Wednesday. He’ll be calling us back in a second. I think his phone has been hacked by Mark Zuckerberg.


Ken Altshuler: [00:00:59] So Mr. tech guru person. Our favorite tech person. So who do we blame? Cambridge Analytica? Do we blame Google? Do we blame Facebook? Or do we blame Matt Gagnon.


Matt: [00:01:11] It’s truly my fault.


Ken: [00:01:12] It is.


Craig: [00:01:12] Yeah. It sounds like something Matt might do.


Matt: [00:01:18] Excuse me. Gentlemen I did. I built some of these apps that did this.


Craig: [00:01:23] He’s a secret billionaire.


Matt: [00:01:25] Something that Facebook loudly applauded. As did the New York Times, Washington Post, and everybody else for being smart. Campaign tools back in 2013 and 14.


Craig: [00:01:33] Back in the day.


Matt: [00:01:34] Back in the day. Back when we thought this was a good thing.


Craig: [00:01:37] How many times have we said you are the product right? If you’re using Google, if you’re using Facebook, you’re not paying for them. Somehow they have to have the money coming in. Make payroll. Pay for their equipment. How do you think they’d do it here? So Cambridge Analytica, they were actually a bunch of slackers compared to what the Obama campaign did. In fact the old former Obama campaign official was talking about how Facebook gave them all of the data on everyone. So where’s the problem here. And frankly you know Ken when you get right down to it I think you’re on the right track. I think the problem is the business models of Google and Facebook. You know Apple is the only major company out there right now that is providing the types of services that we want to use although obviously they don’t have a lot of social media stuff going on. But Apple is the only company out there that’s trying to keep your information safe and secure cuckold.


Matt: [00:02:45] Are you sure about that Craig? I mean not to be a cynic or anything but like isn’t that kind of the company line?


Craig: [00:02:52] Which company line? Apple?


Matt: [00:02:53] Apple. Yeah.


Craig: [00:02:55] Oh. Oh.


Matt: [00:02:56] I mean. I mean this is. I mean we’re talking about the company that had the iPhone hack and about 90 celebrities had all their naked pictures spread all over the Internet. I mean I’m not, I wouldn’t really say you know privacy and information and data and stuff is necessarily something that they’re all that interested protecting either. It might be…


Craig: [00:03:10] It’s a great point here because ultimately anything is hackable and these systems whether it’s Apple’s or Google’s or Facebook’s or y our company, these systems are so complex and keeping them safe is so difficult in this day and age that frankly it’s almost impossible as we keep adding new versions of software, new applications. It’s almost impossible to absolutely keep them safe. But there’s things Apple does. For instance. Your Apple device that you’re talking to and Siri comes online and you ask a question. All of that information about you is removed immediately. Apple doesn’t even have any of the tracking information on you for this. Obviously Siri can respond to you. But it remains anonymous almost instantly versus almost everyone else in the industry, including Amazon by the way Ken, is out there trying to collect it. Not only trying to collect it but is actively selling that information to third parties including Cambridge Analytica, including the old Obama for America campaign. Including almost every business in America. Thousands a day who are trying to advertise to their markets and define who the market is. So there is a difference Matt, obviously, between trying to keep information you know secure and private which is what Apple’s doing and trying to sell all the information they possibly get their hands on. And then the third part which is the hackers getting into the devices and I think by the way on that front Matt, we may be seeing some major problems with Apple security in the not too distant future because of the leak that happened were one of the Apple developers released some of the critical codes for the iOS devices in a public forum basically over on GitHub which is used by programmers to share software just kind of make it simple. So we may be seeing even more hacks Apple equipment.


So when we’re talking about Google or Cambridge Analytica we’re talking about campaigns getting their hands on their information. Where’s the news here Matt?


Matt: [00:05:37] Well that’s the, I mean Facebook’s lost 80 billion dollars in market value over this. And what I just cannot wrap my brain around is why? This is not new information. I mean I could understand if all this stuff was a mystery and we didn’t know about it and the New York Times and The Washington Post and everybody else in the elite media right now did not know this was happening and then suddenly revealed to the world that you know a professor somewhere did slip some data that was completely by the way entirely legal for them to collect the way that they did to a third party organization to use it as political targeting. By the way that’s the other thing about this somebody as a practitioner who’s do this, that stuff is only mildly effective. It doesn’t really do all that much. It’s much better to get consumer data and other things to append your databases and frankly voter lists are more effective and important to political campaigns than this kind of information is. But that aside, this is stuff that we knew that used to be celebrated in 2012, 2011, 2013. You know, four, five, six, seven years ago this was smart campaign tactics. This was good for things to do. It was the future of politics.


Craig: [00:06:44] Yeah, exactly. Do you remember all the signs?


Matt: [00:06:46] Yeah. Because I used to do it. I used to speak at these panels that did this stuff. I mean it was what I did for a living for about eight years. We used to actually be, sorry to interrupt you Craig, but we used to actually as Republicans, we would get crapped on all the time for not be as good at this as the Democrats were. And now we’re in a situation where they’re losing 80 billion dollars for basically nothing different. I mean they’ve stopped doing most of the stuff about three years ago.


Craig: [00:07:11] We’ve got to make one thing clear. Let me make one thing perfectly clear. What we’re talking about is not a hack. Right?


Matt: [00:07:19] Right.


Craig: [00:07:20] As Matt was just saying, it was totally illegal. It was totally above board. It is Facebook’s business model. OK. And yet we still are hearing people in the media and saying that it was a hack. There was no hack.


Matt: [00:07:34] I mean the only thing that was even remotely nefarious was the fact that the professor at Cambridge collected the data and then handed it to a third party developer whatever. But if that third party person, group, Cambridge had collected it themselves, it would have been entirely 100 percent totally okay for them to do that. And they had been, I mean they and others have been collecting this stuff for ages. I mean you play Farmville on Facebook or whatever back in the day? The Farmville people have all this information on you. And they have for years.


Craig: [00:08:03] Exactly. I saw, I remember seeing this little ad that came up on Facebook that said take a personality profile. And I’ve seen it again and again and again. And so I clicked on it to see what it was like, right? Because I do a lot of marketing and I’m interested in marketing and it came up and said that the app wanted access to information about my friends. And it wanted a few other things. This was what, a couple of years ago.


Matt: [00:08:31] I mean that would have been three years ago because they were they were no longer able to do that in 2015.


Craig: [00:08:36] So I looked at that and said forget about it. I’m not giving up this information. And apparently about 200,000-ish people did say yeah, yeah. Go right ahead. And then that’s when they started mining and mining deeper. You know, this to me was very obvious when I thought what they were trying to do. I didn’t know who was right, but I knew they were trying to get into not just me but all of my friends and get their information. It’s just, bottom line, just as a consumer, pay attention. Think about what you’re clicking on, what you’re giving them permission to do. I’ve got a thing up on my web site right now and you can do a search on the internet. You’ll find a bunch of these things. But there’s a link on my web site on how to review which of these apps you give them permission to do whatever it asked to do. It’s right there. It’s in your settings. You can turn it off. But in the future, remember this is Facebook. They will be out of business at some day. Right. It’s like MySpace Ken keeps talking about his favorite social media site. They will be gone and someone else will be taking their place. But some of the things, some of these APIs we are all worried about, those are already available in a couple of other apps that kids just love to use, that they can get similar types of information. So just be prudent. Watch what you’re doing. Realize what it’s being used for. Nothing illegal happens here. Some things they did were a little tricky and maybe underhanded but it’s not something that hasn’t been done for at least a decade. You know almost since day one when the Facebook became a platform available for the public.


Matt: [00:10:23] I mean it’s the only way they earn money. That’s the thing is their monetization schedule is exactly like this. This is they have to have information on you and then allowed marketers to market to you. That’s the whole basis of how they have any market value at all.


Craig: [00:10:34] Well let me put one more thing on another side of this if. I am looking to buy a new pair of shoes or a new car I want to see ads for shoes and cars. I don’t want to see ads about enlarge this or whatever it might be. Right? Right?


Matt: [00:10:48] Right.


Craig: [00:10:50] So having that information knowing I’m in the market for shoes is going to get me a better knowledge about shoes and maybe a better deal on shoes. And the consumer having this information is not necessarily a bad thing for a company that wants to market to you because that’s you know I don’t want to see car ads if I’m not interested in a car. Right. And yet we see them all the time. So there’s two sides to this story here. And people are panicking. A poll just came out, one third of technology, of I.T. people are planning on stopping their use of Facebook. One third right now and a lot of people are dropping off the platform. That might be good, that might be bad. There’s a lot of reasons. But just be careful as we go forward here.


Ken: [00:11:40] We’re talking with Craig Peterson, our tech guru. Joins us every Wednesday at 7:38. Craig, thanks for joining us. Have a great week. And we’ll talk to you next Wednesday.


Craig: [00:11:47] Gentlemen take care. Bye bye.


Ken: [00:11:49] Thanks.

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