<<返回上一页

I exposed how online profiling leaves us open to mass persuasion

发布时间:2019-03-01 02:09:08来源:未知点击:

Daniel Stier By Douglas Heaven DAVID STILLWELL fidgets with his empty takeaway cup as we talk. Sitting in this quiet cafeteria at the University of Cambridge, the ongoing firestorm of US politics feels a million miles away. But with Donald Trump’s surprise victory in the 2016 US presidential election, the fire found its way to him, thrusting the young researcher into the spotlight. “It’s uncomfortable,” he says, uncomfortably. “Plenty of investigative journalists have wanted to have off-the-record conversations about what companies are doing and whether we’ve helped them.” The conversations he is referring to concern what some consider a form of pervasive mind control. Stillwell played a key role in exposing ways that firms and governments can exploit our online data, mining it to create individual psychological profiles they can use to fine-tune adverts and political messages for maximum impact, ushering in an era of unprecedented digital persuasion of the masses. It started in summer 2007. On a whim – having just finished a psychology degree at the University of Nottingham, UK – Stillwell made a Facebook app called myPersonality. It let people take a test that describes personality types according to the “Big Five” traits, which include degrees of agreeableness, conscientiousness and extroversion. Months later, some researchers asked Stillwell if they could use his data. But he hadn’t collected any. He had only set it up because “I thought it would be cool,” he says. Then he wised up and started gathering data. It would prove a career-making move. When Michal Kosinski, then at the University of Cambridge, approached him a year later,