In the Butterfly War, I detail how Silicon Valley uses cyber phrenology to violate civil rights legislation.
In The Ravens Will Starve, I detail how the Chans have begun to utilize cyber phrenology tactics to show that metadata can be used to violate civil rights.
Last month, Chamath Palihapitiya, Facebook’s former vice president, was asked at a Stanford Graduate School of Business event about digital companies exploiting consumer behavior. The New York Post revealed his response and I'd like to draw attention to a specific statement:
This is the only snippet where Mr. Palihapitiya admits the technical details behind Facebook's abuses. The rest is an artful attempt to deflect additional blame onto its users, as if Facebook was just a hapless witness to animistic human nature. Regardless of the dodge, he is admitting Facebook intentionally utilized psychological, sociological, and, most importantly of all, phrenological techniques to maximize advertising exposure. In a critical phrenological example, Facebook allowed advertisers to exclude ad exposure by race. This means Facebook has assembled a detailed list of behaviors associated with black people so as to control their ad exposure. This type of behavior tracking is the very essence of cyber phrenology and it is a core part of the effort to ensure the "short-term dopamine-driven feedback loops" Mr. Palihapitiya regrets.
The smoking gun is in and now we have a few people putting the pieces together. Over at r/The_Donald, a screenshot of a 8chan comment explaining how Facebook civil rights violations can affect the California 2018 primaries is gaining traction.
Here's the screenshot for posterity:
Because of the legal precedents set by redlining, a case could be made that Facebook intentionally created an environment where the civil rights of blacks were violated due to their increased exposed to predatory ads or being intentionally denied ads, specifically of financial products that could lead to disparate impact suits. If this is true, the impact Silicon Valley has on politics would be in serious trouble as civil rights violations typically result in federal government involvement. If conducted intelligently, this type of play could result in significant Republican wins in the California 2018 primaries and beyond.
It's a powerful idea in a political world where the old rules are no longer reliable. If a deep red state can go blue, couldn't a deep blue state go red?