Through A Facebook Darkly

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Cambridge Analytica whistleblower Christopher Wylie

And so now we have a brand-new whistleblower—from now-disgraced data analytics firm Cambridge Analytica—who admits to being Steve Bannon’s “secret weapon” to get Donald Trump elected. This feat allegedly happened by utilizing information “harvested” from the profiles of more than 50 million Facebook users.

28-year-old Christopher Wylie provided The Guardian with all the deets, risking breaking an NDA, getting sued, and being on the bad side of people like Bannon and conservative mogul Robert Mercer.

Wylie’s profile in the article starts as follows:

The first time I met Christopher Wylie, he didn’t yet have pink hair. That comes later. As does his mission to rewind time. To put the genie back in the bottle.

By the time I met him in person, I’d already been talking to him on a daily basis for hours at a time. On the phone, he was clever, funny, bitchy, profound, intellectually ravenous, compelling. A master storyteller. A politicker. A data science nerd.

It’s that same…”Snowden Mystique,” like from 2013. Only updated a bit, with some punk hair dye.

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Whistleblowers Wylie and Edward Snowden: déjà vu all over again

But rather than Snowden risking it all to reveal NSA surveillance plans on American citizens, to warn the public their privacy might be compromised…we have a person who was cynically directed to purposely manipulate public concern over those very things in order to win voters! A person who did it using the types of privacy-violating data harvesting Snowden warned us about!!!

A person who took the term “Deep State”—originally coined by Mike Lofgren of the progressive Bill Moyers website—and twisted it into an alt-right Trumpian mantra!

“…we were testing all kinds of messages and all kinds of imagery — that included images of walls, people scaling walls, we tested ‘drain the swamp,’ testing ideas of the ‘deep state,'” he added. “And a lot of these narratives, which at the time would have seemed crazy for a mainstream candidate to run on, those were the things that we were finding that there were pockets of Americans who this really appealed to. And Steve Bannon knew that, because we were doing the research on it. And I was surprised when I saw the Trump campaign and it started, you know, talking about building walls or draining the swamp.”

Jesus H. Christ on a cracker! And this was going on as early as 2014!

These people took vital ideas about freedom and government accountability and codified them as mainstreamed hard-right conspiracy theories used specifically to get Trump in office!

And you know what happens if you refer to the concept of the Deep State (per Lofgren’s definition) now? You get called an alt-right Trump-loving nutcase.

If you were to have asked me the best way to shut down the types of radical conversations started by Snowden’s revelations and the honest work of people trying to hold the government to a better standard of transparency and justice…I couldn’t think of a better one than this scheme as it’s being all laid out now.

To me…it was more than about electing Trump. It was about poisoning an entire movement.

And Facebook, either intentionally or through negligence (and I don’t even know which is worse), helped them do it.

It blows my mind. It really does.

Wylie is just Snowden at the other side of the looking glass. And again history repeats itself, albeit in increasingly stranger and stranger permutations.

(Presumably in retaliation for his recent indiscretions, Wylie’s Facebook account was suspended. If only it was so easy for me to delete my own!)