Four Corners explores social media data scandal

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FACEBOOK is currently involved in the biggest scandal of its time.

As CEO Mark Zuckerberg continues to be subject to intense control, users around the world can not know if they can trust the social media champion with their data again.

As many as 87 million Facebook users – including 300,000 Australians – may have got their private information removed from their accounts.

The core of this scandal is Cambridge Analytica, a UK data analysis firm offering services to businesses and groups who want to "change audience behavior."

The company is best known for its work with Donald Trump's Presidential Campaign in 2016.

But what Facebook users did not know was that the company collected information about millions of users who did not agree to save their personal information.

ABC's Four Corners segment on Monday evening looked back at how the scandal unfolded and how apparently easy campaigns can be manipulated at the age of the internet.

HIDDEN CAMERAS REVEAL DODGY DEALINGS

UK Channel 4 News exposed Cambridge Analytics's alleged dodgy practice in a series of meetings taken at hotels in London between November and January.

An undercover reporter posed as a fixer for a wealthy Sri Lankan client seeking election and asked the company to explain how it affects election results.

In the hidden camera recording, played by Four Corners the company boasts its work for Donald Trump in 2016 elections.

"We've done all research, all data, all analyzes, all targeting, we ran the entire digital campaign, the television campaign and our data informed the whole strategy," says Alexander Nix, CEO.

He described the company's risky practices to undermine opponents in the past, including "sending some girls around to the candidate's house" or placing a bribe, secretly filming it and sending t hat on the internet.

He also described how the company could create proxy organizations to publish negative material about opposition candidates on social media that reached millions of people on different platforms.

"Sometimes you can use proxy organizations that are already there. You feed them. They are civil society organizations. Charity organizations or activist groups, and we use them – feed them the material and they do the work."

"We just put information in bloodstream to the internet and see it so grow, give it a little push over and over again to see it take shape. And then these things infiltrate the online community and expand, but without branding – so it's insatiable, unmanageable. "

In a separate exchange, Nix said that the company made irrevocable using a self-destructive email system.

" No-Knowing That We Have It And Secondly, We Put Our E- mails with a self-destruction timer … So you send them and after they have been read two hours later they disappear. There is no evidence, there are no paper traces there is nothing. "

Market Manager Turnbull describes how to turn people's mind without knowing that it's propaganda:

" We've just put information in the bloodstream of the Internet and then, and then watch it grow, give it a little push again and again … as a remote control. It's going to happen without anyone thinking, "It's propaganda," for the moment you think it's propaganda, # 39; the next question, "Who has said that?" ? & # 39; "

Cambridge Analytica has denied any wrongdoing. After the allegations came out, Nix said the scenarios they described in the hidden recordings were hypothetical.

" By playing along with this line of conversation and partly to save our "Client" from embarrassment, we saw a number of ridiculous hypothetical scenarios, "said Nix in a release." I must expressly conclude that Cambridge Analytica does not condone or involve capture, bribery or so-called "honeytraps", nor use untrue material for Any purpose. "

WHISTLEBLOWER, EXPANDING THE COMPANY

" If you do not ask questions, you will not get an answer that you do not like. "

How did Cambridge Analytica Whistleblower Christopher describe Wylie climbed at his former workplace when the data analysis company's brave actions became clear.

"Everybody knew we were in a gray area," he said while speaking with Channel 4 in not rviewet Four Corners . We look at what Cambridge Analytica does online, it's compulsive. People do not know that it will be done for them.

"Computers are better at understanding who you are like a person than even your colleagues or your friends."

He described essentially an information war with you – social media user – as the primary goal.

Wylie drove that war. "I was instrumental. I was at the heart of it."

Wylie explained that the data analysis company could get a dramatically obvious reading of a person's habits and feelings through their social media.

"On social media, you cure yourself," he said. "You put so much information about who you are in one place. So when you go and you like something, you give me a clue as to who you are."

"All this can be caught very easily and run through an algorithm that teaches who you are. When you go to work, your colleagues see only one side of you. Your friends see only one page of you.

"But a computer sees all kinds of pages of you, and then we can be better than human accuracy by predicting your behavior."

He said the business was so effective because people had no idea, that they could potentially be brainwashed based on their own data.

"There is a lack of awareness. It is compulsive. People … If I study you and I have enough information about you because you have cure all of your self online and I catch it, can I anticipate what is your mental vulnerabilities, what cognitive disturbances you can show in certain situations … and I can utilize it. "

He accused the company of perceiving fabrications with its political messaging and saying masterminds" wildly misleading the truth in such a way that it is for the benefit of their goals ".

"I was there. We worked on all kinds of experiments about what would … what would lead a person from A to B."

Wylie admitted easy to be hypocrisy in all this when he was involved to it.

"It's important to me that I played a crucial role in establishing a company that has done much harm to the democratic process in many countries," he said. "But I was naive. I made a big mistake."

WHAT NEXT?

The data scandal has shone a new focus on data and privacy in the digital world.

Zuckerberg even admitted last week that his own data was mistakenly shared with the company, even though he did not go into detail.

While taking questions from senators over the scandal last week, Mark Zuckerberg said that Facebook was required to win back his users confidence.

Under new rules, companies need explicit consent from users to share their data with third parties and people will have the right to know what personal information is stored about them and to ask to be deleted.

The question – and perhaps one of Facebook's biggest concerns now – is, if it's too late, too late.

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