How Researchers Learned to Use Facebook ‘Likes’ to Sway Your Thinking

From The New York Times:  https://www.nytimes.com/2018/03/20/technology/facebook-cambridge-behavior-model.html

By and hGabriel J.X. Dance
March 20, 2018

Perhaps at some point in the past few years you’ve told Facebook that you like, say, Kim Kardashian West. When you hit the thumbs-up button on her page, you probably did it because you wanted to see the reality TV star’s posts in your news feed. Maybe you realized that marketers could target advertisements to you based on your interest in her.

What you probably missed is that researchers had figured out how to tie your interest in Ms. Kardashian West to certain personality traits, such as how extroverted you are (very), how conscientious (more than most) and how open-minded (only somewhat). And when your fondness for Ms. Kardashian West is combined with other interests you’ve indicated on Facebook, researchers believe their algorithms can predict the nuances of your political views with better accuracy than your loved ones.

As The New York Times reported on Saturday, that is what motivated the consulting firm Cambridge Analytica to collect data from more than 50 million Facebook users, without their consent, to build its own behavioral models to target potential voters in various political campaigns. The company has worked for a political action committee started by John R. Bolton, who served in the George W. Bush administration, as well as for President Trump’s presidential campaign in 2016. “We find your voters and move them to action,” the firm boasts on its website.

Cambridge Analytica now says it has destroyed the user data it collected on Facebook. Raw data reviewed by The Times suggests the information, or copies of it, may still exist. In either case, specific user information was merely a means to an end, a building block in a far more ambitious construction: a behavioral model powerful enough to manipulate people’s activity and, potentially, sway elections.

The firm adapted its approach to personality modeling from studies conducted by researchers at Stanford University and the Psychometrics Center at the University of Cambridge. The studies relied on data collected by a Facebook app called myPersonality, a 100-question quiz developed by the Psychometrics Center that assessed a person’s openness, conscientiousness, extroversion, agreeableness and neuroticism, traits commonly referred to in the academic community by the acronym Ocean.

Many respondents who took the quiz through the myPersonality app authorized it to gain access to their Facebook profile data, and information about their friend network — access that was allowed by the social network at the time. That allowed researchers to cross-reference the results of the quiz — numeric Ocean scores — with the users’ Facebook “likes,” and build a model from the correlations they found between the two. With that model, the researchers could often make precise guesses about subsequent users’ personalities using only a list of their likes, no 100-question quiz necessary.

One of the studies the Psychometrics Center produced, published in 2015 in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, was built on the “likes” and Ocean scores of more than 70,000 respondents who took the myPersonality quiz on Facebook. It found that a person who liked the movie “Fight Club,” for example, was far more likely to be open to new experiences than a person who liked “American Idol,” according to a review of data provided to The Times by Michal Kosinski, an author of the 2015 study and a professor of organizational behavior at Stanford.

Continue reading at:  https://www.nytimes.com/2018/03/20/technology/facebook-cambridge-behavior-model.html

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Divorcing the Transgender Community

When we first started the idea of WBT (Women Born Transsexual) back at the end of 2000 we were denounced as traitors to “The Community” for daring to propose a few simple ideas:  1. Transsexual was something you were born with, a medical condition amenable to medical treatment.  2. That after transition we were women, not trans-women.  3. That there was never A Trans-community but rather many different trans-communities. 4. We did not accept the “Transgender Identity” and saw it as a trap that kept us from assimilating into post-op lives as ordinary women or men in the case of F to M people.

In short nearly 20 years ago we divorced ourselves from the “Transgender Community”.  Not from from caring about friends and or strangers who see the “Transgender Community” as a path to liberation but rather from the on-line political games of purity and proper thinking.

It has been one year shy of 50 years since I first started hormones and began transition.  It took only a couple of years after SRS to start leaving the community and moving to the lesbian feminist community.

People are surprised when they discover the same thing happening in their own lives, many of the most vocal activists of even ten years ago have found that life has given them new priorities.

The following article is by yet another woman who has discovered a life post-trans.

From Tablet Magazine:  http://www.tabletmag.com/scroll/257446/divorcing-the-transgender-community

I thought I’d found a warm and supportive home, but being Jewish made that difficult

By Gretchen Rachel Hammond
March 13, 2018

“You’re a fucking kike!”

It was not a single thought expelled in one, rapid sentence, and the tone was so much more than mere hatred. It was maniacal rage that curled around each word and threw it down the speaker of my phone before pausing to pick up another. The last sharpened piece of flint was aimed directly at my head with relish.

I’m usually very good at come-backs. I am a movie fanatic. Rather than the occasional piece of annoyingly catchy music which shows up like a mosquito on a summer evening to persistently circle around one’s ear, my days tend to recall random pieces of screenplay that match how I’m feeling. Thus, I have a library of borrowed quotes for every occasion.

The caller did not immediately hang up. They were waiting for a response. Maybe something from Eric Bogosian?

“Tell me something. I’m curious. How do you dial a phone with a straitjacket on?”

Or Bob Clark?

“You aren’t even smart enough to be a good bigot!”

Either would have done. Anything would have done. Instead of just sitting there in thunder-stuck, ineffectual silence.

It was June 28, 2017, and I was an adult, but I might as well have been my 11-year-old, effeminate, half-Indian school-kid self again, reliving the day in 1981 when at least a half-dozen of my classmates at North Cestrian Grammar School in Manchester, England telegraphed their latest attack with “Paki Puff!”

It was their invitation for me to run. They liked it when I ran because it marked the beginning of the hunt and I was always the easiest prey to catch.

That morning, I didn’t manage to get out of my chair fast enough. So, they picked me up and sandwiched me between the wall and the heavy wooden classroom door. With their collective weight, they pressed against it until I could not move and then could not breath. I grew increasingly more faint; unaware of the blood streaming from my nose which bore the brunt of the first assault. If their look-out hadn’t suddenly yelled the name of an oncoming teacher, they would have killed me.

You would think, in 36 years, I might have learned something about fighting back.

But as I gripped the phone, my breath stopped in my throat. Any physical or mental defenses were useless.

I recognized the voice of my attacker—a transgender person who participated in a transgender liberation rally in Chicago that I had covered earlier in the year in my capacity as a reporter for the city’s LGBTQ newspaper.

Members of the transgender community filled the frozen streets of the Chicago loop that night to demand their civil rights and fight back against society’s bullies; something that had become a life goal since my school-days.

Now that I was the focus of their rancor, ‘paki’ had become ‘kike.’ The boys behind the door were members of my own community, and I didn’t know what the hell to do or feel about it.

For four years, I had watched the transgender community eat its own to the point where becoming dinner was accepted as an inherent risk of belonging to it. As the call continued, I didn’t feel like dinner so much as the scraps thrown down the garbage disposal.

“What did you say?” I finally whispered.

The invitation was accepted for the door to be pressed harder.

“Oh, you fuckin’ heard me. Your story was a lie and your bitch ass is finished as a reporter.”

“Why are you doing this?” I was beginning to shake. “It wasn’t a lie….and I know you…I….”

The voice was gone.

Continue reading at:  http://www.tabletmag.com/scroll/257446/divorcing-the-transgender-community