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Cambridge Analytica: Harvester of (Data) Sorrows

Cambridge Analytica: Harvester of (Data) Sorrows

You thought you were just clicking on viral cat videos, but it turns out you were really helping Steve Bannon build a “psychological warfare mindf**k tool.” Signal’s own Tsar of All the Technologies @kevinallison has some thoughts on what it means:


Cambridge Analytica, a data analysis firm that worked with the Trump campaign, allegedly obtained the personal data of more than 50 million Facebook users harvested by an outside researcher under dubious terms. They then used the data to mount a sophisticated voter influence strategy ahead of the election. Facebook is now under fire both for allowing users’ data to leak and for allegedly failing to ensure that it was deleted afterwards.

The episode is a nice example of the “hacking democracy’s software” idea that we tried out on you a few weeks ago, and it throws a harsh light on a pressing question: in a world where social media platforms are increasingly both the battleground — and the fodder — for political clashes: is a democracy only as supple as its privacy settings?

In that vein, it’s worth noting that the three largest economic zones on Earth differ significantly in how they treat privacy. Europe gives people the last word on how their personal data can be used — and imposes harsh penalties on rule-breakers. In China, it’s the government that has the real sovereignty over all data and information flows (Russia and Turkey are trying fitfully to do the same.)

But in the US, apart from some sector-specific exceptions such as healthcare and a general ban on deceptive trading practices, it falls to private companies to set their own privacy policies on their platforms. As Facebook and others have found out, profit-seeking, politics, and privacy don’t always fit together neatly. Capitol Hill is already circling around Facebook on this issue — is there a rude regulatory awakening in store for all the US tech giants?

Empathy and listening are key to establishing harmonious relationships, as demonstrated by Callista Azogu, GM of Human Resources & Organization for Nigerian Agip Oil Company (NAOC), an Eni subsidiary in Abuja. "To build trust is very difficult. To destroy it is very easy," says Callista, whose busy days involve everything from personnel issues to union relationships. She sees great potential for her native Nigeria not only because of the country's natural resources, but because of its vibrant and creative people.

Learn more about Callista in this episode of Faces of Eni.

For the world's wealthiest nations, including the United States, the rollout of COVID-19 vaccine has been rocky, to say the least. And as a result, much of the developing world will have to wait even longer for their turn. Part of the challenge, World Bank President David Malpass says, is that "advanced economies have reserved a lot of the vaccine doses." Malpass sat down with Ian Bremmer recently to talk about what his organization is doing to try to keep millions around the world from slipping deeper into poverty during the pandemic. Their conversation was part of the latest episode of GZERO World.

Saturday will mark the beginning of an historic turning point for European politics as 1,001 voting members of Germany's Christian Democratic Union, the party of Chancellor Angela Merkel, hold an online conference to elect a new leader.

Here are the basic facts:

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For the first time in twenty years, extreme poverty around the world is growing. How does the developing world recover from a pandemic that has brought even the richest nations to their knees? David Malpass, the President of the World Bank, is tasked with answering that question. He joins Ian Bremmer on GZERO World to talk about how his organization is trying to keep the developing world from slipping further into poverty in the wake of a once-in-a-century pandemic.

Joe Biden wants to move into the White House, but the coast isn't clear. He may need some bleach.

Watch more PUPPET REGIME here.

The GZERO World Podcast with Ian Bremmer. Listen now.

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