Clinton: ‘Weaponizing the Tech Revolution’ Cost Me the Election

At Code 2017, former Secretary of State and Democratic Presidential candidate Hillary Clinton said last year’s presidential election was “The first time you really had the tech revolution weaponized politically.”

She pointed to Russian agents, fake news sites, content farms, and bots distributing false information as major contributors to her loss, saying “The other side was using content that was flat-out false and delivering it in a personalized way.” On Facebook, she said, the vast majority of news items posted were faked, and these were connected to 1,000 Russian agents and bots.

While she said she was very proud of her campaign’s data and analytics team, they focused on better targeting and better messaging, aiming to turn out our voters and communicate with them. While she said her campaign, like all political organizations, tried to put information in the best possible context, “we did not engage in false content.”

Also contributing to her defeat, she said, was the Citizens United court decision allowing unaccountable money into the campaign, and the “effective suppression of votes” following the suspension of the Voting Rights Act.

Clinton admitted that using a personal e-mail server was a mistake, but said her use of it was responsible and not careless. Still, she said, it was “exploited very effectively for adverse political reasons,” and pointed to the reopening of the investigation into her email right before the election as the pivotal moment for her campaign.

Much of her discussion dealt with false information she said was spread by the Russians, pointing to a declassified report from 17 intelligence agencies in early January that concluded with ‘high confidence” that Russians ran an extensive information war campaign against her through paid advertising, false news sites, and agents. She said, “The forces we are up against are not just interested in influencing our elections and our politics; they are going after our economy, and our unity as a nation.”

Clinton noted that when she became the nominee, the data that the Democratic National Committee had on voters was “mediocre to poor.” Meanwhile, the Republican National Committee has raised close to $100 million between 2012 and 2016 and used that to build a foundation of data. When that was married with psychographic data from Cambridge Analytica, which resulted in the marriage of content with delivery and data, she said, you had a “potent combination.”

She also said that the Russians could not have known how to best weaponize that information unless they had been guided by some Americans. For instance, within an hour of the leaked tapes from Access Hollywood with Donald Trump talking about how he treats women, WikiLeaks leaked emails from her campaign manager and began to weaponize them. She said that after Comey’s letter about her emails came out in late October, the biggest Google searches were for WikiLeaks, and this was particularly high in Wisconsin and Pennsylvania, states she lost.

She said that we are getting more information about the contacts between Trump campaign officials and associates with the Russians before, during, and after the election, and said, “We’re going to, I hope, connect a lot of the dots.”

Asked by conference co-host Kara Swisher if she blamed Facebook and other platforms, Hillary said she wasn’t exactly sure, but that, “What was happening to me was unprecedented.” She suggested that Facebook and the other platforms need to curate content more effectively and stop fake news from creating a new reality.

Later, responding to an audience question about the impact of Twitter and other social media, Clinton said she has lots of sympathy for people trying to make the decisions to contain the weaponization of information. She would rather see the industry erring on the side of blocking information, rather than having the public overwhelmed by the fake information. (It wasn’t completely clear, but to me, that sounds a bit like endorsing some amount of censorship.)

Other topics she touched on were the continuing investigations, the Democrats’ chances of winning the House of Representatives in 2018, how women are perceived in politics, and the book she is writing.

http://www.pcmag.com/article/354043/clinton-says-weaponizing-the-tech-revolution-cost-her-the

You may also like

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *