Social media companies such as Facebook, Twitter and Google attempt to discern our interests and voting profile by interpreting the text we write, the texts we receive, the posts we like and share, the web sites we visit, and combine that with data purchased from third party companies that collect our credit card purchases and store loyalty card purchases. Google is just as bad as Facebook.
This information is compiled into a dossier on each of us and is sold to others for the purpose of influencing us – usually to buy something but also to adopt someone elses ideology. Many of the conclusions are based upon unverified assertions – and are often not true.
However, this data is widely distributed. Unfortunately, one company stored the information in an unsecured cloud (they believe they inadvertently marked it as “public” rather than “private”) and now these detailed profiles of millions of Americans, including their name, address, phone number, salary and estimated wealth, political affiliation, hobbies, interests and more has been leaked.
Some of the files, which were primarily Excel spreadsheets, contained details about specific voters that went far beyond information that is publicly available through voter rolls compiled by state governments, which often include name, address, phone number, and party affiliation.
One spreadsheet described voters in the Bronx with labels such as “Fragile Families” and “Meager Metro Means.” Another estimated the net worth and annual income of individual Floridians. Others listed specific hobbies and interests for each voter, such as NASCAR, woodworking, and scuba diving. Several noted whether or not someone owned a gun.
This data is collected by third parties. We have no control over the data they collect nor any way to correct assertions that are wildly inaccurate or out of date. Facebook, for example, believes I am both a Republican and a Democrat, simultaneously, but in reality I belong to neither party.
Essentially all data about each of us – including the assertions that may not be true – has been released to the wild due to numerous security leaks at multiple services. Hell, earlier in July 2018, Dignity Health emailed me, in the clear, the 101 page medical history of one of their patients. Information security is viewed as a suggestion, not a mandate. RoboCent, who leaked the voter records, does no business with the people it impacted – thus, the people are powerless to provide a market-based response to the incompetent leadership of RoboCent.