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The new age Oil — Data

Cambridge Analytica Facebook News

I haven’t really followed news about Cambridge Analytica Scandal involving Facebook. Whatever little I know about it has come from the tidbits I have gathered during various conversations I have had with my friends during lunch breaks and the evening strolls. What I now know is that the controversy is indeed of epic proportions. Influencing American Presidential Elections and that too which led to one of the most controversial results in American History. It is mind-fucking.

Huge it may be, this scandal involving Facebook, but it is hardly surprising. For the simple reason considering the unchecked data plundering Facebook (& Google) have been doing for the last decade or so it was a scandal waiting to happen. This plundering is not different then the various plundering human history has seen in the past.

The plundering of natural resources — land, gold, oil — has happened every time these resources have been first discovered. These were first order plundering. During this period, those who first saw the future in a resource organized a global campaign and lay their claim without much resistance.

Soon others followed. But with time the resources shrink and then started the struggle for the next wave of plundering. Second order plundering where the others who were late to start on this gold rush attacked the attackers of the first order wave. These attacks were both open wars and also organized as guerrilla warfare or trojan warfare. The purpose was same — to get more hold resources.

What’s happening today is the first wave of this plundering. Facebook and Google and Amazon are the first wave Plunderers. The techniques are new (giving freebies to get our data) but the results are same. They own this data. They have acquired it. Even when we delete our raw data, the essence remains with them. The riches have been claimed.

These riches are the new age Oil. In these endless rows and columns, stored in far-flung warehouses, resides secrets which humans have been searching for decades. How we think, what makes us tick. What are our greatest fears? The source of our happiness and sorrow. How we act day in and day out, what we wished today, what we want now, and with how the latest algorithms are coming up, what we will end up wanting months from now.

New age Plunderers — Google & Facebook.

Google and Facebook are the first ones to land on these gold mines. Uber and Amazon followed. Now every little app on our phones is vying for its slice of data. Its pound of flesh. And in process is making a virtual profile of its customers (us) to make us pay more — in time and money.

Now Facebook involvement or not, in Cambridge Analytica Scandal, the data was waiting to be exploited. When the combustible material of such high intensity is stored in one place, it is bound to catch fire. It’s a matter of one little spark, one little nudge, and voila — the explosion. There is a famous principle by Chekov which says that “If in the first act you have hung a pistol on the wall, then in the following one it should be fired.” Only that in this act of “Data Revolution,” not one but many guns have appeared, and what we have heard is only the first of the many that will be sounded in time to come.


Originally published at Tidbits.