Law in the Internet Society

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JakeTaylorFirstEssay 3 - 17 Nov 2019 - Main.EbenMoglen
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META TOPICPARENT name="FirstEssay"
It is strongly recommended that you include your outline in the body of your essay by using the outline as section titles. The headings below are there to remind you how section and subsection titles are formatted.

In Defence of Cambridge Analytica

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 In the face of this, there is but one personal act of defiance left. I may never be one of those who knows how to change the behaviour of computers, but the decision to seek to learn, grapple and engage with the design of my global commons is a start. We have had Cambridge Analytica, we have had Snowden, we know the power of information and we therefore no longer have the luxury of ignorance. So, why have I not deleted Facebook?
I don't think I understand the arc of the essay, which probably means that the best way to make it better is to make clearer the contour of the argument.

The first point, which also seems to be the title point, is that the activities of Cambridge Analytica did not by themselves change the result of a referendum that was decided by a relatively significant margin of 4%. That does not seem to me to be a very strong thesis, however. The significance of the matter, as you indicate yourself, has nothing to do with whether it was outcome-determinative in one electoral incident.

I think in deciding what Cambridge Analytica itself accomplished, the matter would better be addressed by asking what it actually did, in this and in prior electoral episodes elsewhere, than by relying upon one (or even more than one) general political science studies of the effect of advertising on candidate choice. We can all agree, I think, that the question about psychographically-tagerted "push communications," which are not necessarily advertisements, is how they effect behavior, rather than idea formation.

But that's the less evident aspect of the process that you discuss in the remainder of the draft, which is far removed from the question of single electoral choices, and more generally directed at the issue of the effect of these push communications on self-fashioning tout court. Once we are at the question of how the self is shaped, any one Alexander Nix is indeed insignificant. But the matter cannot be analyzed simply as one troll and one anxiety sufferer in his echo chamber. Now the question is about the "climate of opinion," the influence of the great plurality of minds and bots affecting minds, that studies of "computational propaganda" are in this sense about.

So I think the way forward is to clarify what the central idea is, and to reflect that ida both in brisk introduction and in a more closely-sustained effort to produce the analysis that causes you to believe in the value of whatever idea it is. So far as why you haven't removed yourself from Facebook (or is that FACEBOOK?) yet, I should think the answer is that you're still not taking the question very seriously.

You are entitled to restrict access to your paper if you want to. But we all derive immense benefit from reading one another's work, and I hope you won't feel the need unless the subject matter is personal and its disclosure would be harmful or undesirable.

Revision 3r3 - 17 Nov 2019 - 16:52:40 - EbenMoglen
Revision 2r2 - 10 Oct 2019 - 02:19:43 - JakeTaylor
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