Cambridge Analytica: Stop worrying, because you can’t escape being a pawn

In the wake of the Cambridge Analytica scandal, Ashley Ringrose provides a satirical take on the situation, by asking us to think about the data every company that isn't Facebook has on us.

If you’re worried about your personal information on Facebook being mined without your permission, then I hope you never think about what’s happening to your credit, medical, Google or shopping data.

In fact, in the grand scheme of things, companies knowing that you’re a fan of a certain obscure band, visit certain sites and chat about Hot Wheels cars a lot is nothing compared to hackers having all your credit information, or worse still your medical records.

Equifax was hacked and I thought nothing of it. Never heard of that company. I didn’t even know they had all my credit information until my credit card was blocked thanks to a report from them. No opt-in or opt-out there. It took four months until I could use my credit card again.

Supermarkets, along with retailers like Amazon, collect a lot more granular information on you via loyalty cards. In fact, there’s a wealth of information on almost everyone based on the recent Australian census, but we prefer to assume that this too is secure.

What are the data sharing policies for this data? I dunno I don’t read the fine print, who does? Are they secure? I hope so.

Here’s an article from 2014 on Fly Buys and data sharingThe SMH revealed that customers’ personal details were sent to up to 30 other companies and to third parties in at least 23 other countries. There was no outrage then, yet it’s essentially the same thing.

What the recent Facebook scandal shows is that nothing is secure. What is does show even more is a perfect example of big data, and the level of targeting afforded through digital marketing.

I mean, if you can influence an entire election, you should also be able to persuade people to buy your brand of cereal or get a new car, right?

I bet some huge marketers were angry. “Why didn’t my agency bring me this power!” or maybe it’s: “Damn I hope Facebook doesn’t shut down the data sharing we have access to after this disaster!”

Your data on Facebook is relatively harmless (compared to credit, medical and shopping data), yet the outrage was huge as it was tied to the US election, right wing-politics and Russia. It felt like a spy movie, and we were all the pawns.

But we’ve always been pawns – just consumers trained to buy more things. This is not new and it won’t change.

Will people leave Facebook? A small amount of people will, but the majority won’t, because there is a huge social value to being on the platform.

Your friends, your photos, the ability to connect, to share with thousands of niche groups like Hot Wheels Collectors you can only get on Facebook right now. Just like there’s a value for using Google, loyalty cards and shopping on Amazon.

So I say stop worrying and get woke. Don’t believe everything you read on the internet (or the papers or TV or even what your friends say), and just enjoy being a pawn.

Ashley Ringrose is studio head at SMG Studio and founder of Soap Creative.


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