Doveva essere solo un esperimento, poi un business e alla fine è diventato un modo occulto di manipolare le scelte elettorali.
Grazie ad un software che analizza i vostri Like su Facebook, alcune aziende sono in grado di spiare e orientare le vostre opinioni, spingervi a votare per uno piuttosto che per un altro.
A denunciarlo, con tanto di prove, è il The Guardian, grazie alle rivelazioni del whistleblower Christopher Wylie che racconta come il sistema sia stato testato con successo dalla Cambridge Analytica, azienda legata agli ambienti attorno al guru della destra americana Steve Bannon, per poi essere usato in occasione del referendum inglese e delle elezioni USA.
Dal The Guardian:
Wylie oversaw what may have been the first critical breach. Aged 24, while studying for a PhD in fashion trend forecasting, he came up with a plan to harvest the Facebook profiles of millions of people in the US, and to use their private and personal information to create sophisticated psychological and political profiles. And then target them with political ads designed to work on their particular psychological makeup.
"We ‘broke’ Facebook," he says.
And he did it on behalf of his new boss, Steve Bannon.
"Is it fair to say you ‘hacked’ Facebook?" I ask him one night.
He hesitates. "I’ll point out that I assumed it was entirely legal and above board."
Last month, Facebook’s UK director of policy, Simon Milner, told British MPs on a select committee inquiry into fake news, chaired by Conservative MP Damian Collins, that Cambridge Analytica did not have Facebook data. The official Hansard extract reads:
Christian Matheson (MP for Chester): "Have you ever passed any user information over to Cambridge Analytica or any of its associated companies?"
Simon Milner: "No."
Matheson: "But they do hold a large chunk of Facebook’s user data, don’t they?"
Milner: "No. They may have lots of data, but it will not be Facebook user data. It may be data about people who are on Facebook that they have gathered themselves, but it is not data that we have provided."
Il sistema di Cambridge Analytica sarebbe quindi "legale" o comunque "non illegale" e non coinvolgerebbe alcuna responsabilità diretta da parte di Facebook ?
In sintesi, il software messo a punto dall'azienda in cui lavorava Wylie "catturava" i post di milioni di profili Facebook, ne analizzava i Like e ne traeva le conseguenze, con algoritmi che via via affinavano le capacità predittive. Tutto questo avrebbe consentito ad un'altra società, la Global Science Research di proprietà di un professore di Cambridge, Aleksandr Kogan, di mettere in piedi un business a favore di ambienti legati a Steve Bannon.
Wylie has a copy of an executed contract, dated 4 June 2014, which confirms that SCL, the parent company of Cambridge Analytica, entered into a commercial arrangement with a company called Global Science Research (GSR), owned by Cambridge-based academic Aleksandr Kogan, specifically premised on the harvesting and processing of Facebook data, so that it could be matched to personality traits and voter rolls.
What the email correspondence between Cambridge Analytica employees and Kogan shows is that Kogan had collected millions of profiles in a matter of weeks. But neither Wylie nor anyone else at Cambridge Analytica had checked that it was legal. It certainly wasn’t authorised. Kogan did have permission to pull Facebook data, but for academic purposes only. What’s more, under British data protection laws, it’s illegal for personal data to be sold to a third party without consent.
"Facebook could see it was happening," says Wylie. "Their security protocols were triggered because Kogan’s apps were pulling this enormous amount of data, but apparently Kogan told them it was for academic use. So they were like, ‘Fine’."
Kogan maintains that everything he did was legal and he had a "close working relationship" with Facebook, which had granted him permission for his apps.
Cambridge Analytica had its data. This was the foundation of everything it did next – how it extracted psychological insights from the "seeders" and then built an algorithm to profile millions more.
Parafrasando l'ovvio, la denuncia del Guardian apre nuovi e inquietanti interrogativi. E in attesa dei necessari chiarimenti da parte di Zuckerberg, astenetevi dal cliccare LIKE su Facebook.