Be angry at billionaires who own your data

Liberals are fuming because Facebook handed over user data of millions of people to Cambridge Analytica (CA), a firm retained by the Trump campaign.

CA is part of Robert Mercer’s empire, which funds Citizens United and the Cato and Heritage Foundations. Mercer sponsored Steve Bannon’s career and Breitbart News after the death of its founder, Andrew Breitbart.

CA supposedly identified 5,000 data points on millions of people. They could supposedly distinguish firm supporters from wavering ones, identify potential contributors and more. The millions whose data is being sold to marketers have nothing to say in the matter.

That’s no surprise
Aggregating and selling user data to marketers is the core of Facebook’s business model. American political campaigns conducted such marketing operations for a generation before Facebook or the Internet.

Angry liberals forgot that the Obama campaign hired Mark Zuckerberg’s college roommate and former Facebook architect Chris Hughes to run their web operation, and to deploy and use the social networking data of millions of users and their Facebook friends purchased the same way Trump got it. They were so good that Advertising Age named the Obama campaign its 2008 “Marketer of the Year,” beating out Apple, Amazon and Nike.

Trump did what his darling liberal predecessor did: buy and sell your personal online history and information.

The issue is that Facebook, the data mining companies and the marketers they sell our data to are NOT just entirely unregulated – they’ve been allowed to write what laws do exist. Facebook, Twitter, the data miners and the marketers have purchased laws that prohibit programmers from writing the simple browser plug-ins that would enable users to easily choose whether to share their data.

In a better world, the social networks and the Internet would be public property, democratically managed in the peoples’ interests. Users could withhold their personal information and that of their friends. But democratic management of public property is socialism, and we can’t have that.

Bruce Dixon is managing editor of Contact him at


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