A lot of big news broke over the weekend, and we need to be increasingly concerned that Trump is going to try to shut down the Mueller investigation. But evidence of a connection between the Trump campaign and Russia continues to mount. No wonder Trump is freaking out, and lashing out on social media. One of the biggest revelations had a local dimension. News broke that the Mercer-backed Cambridge Analytica received Facebook user data on 50 million profiles that was improperly obtained by an academic posing as a researcher. The data came from an app designed by the academic that harvested user information that was then passed to Cambridge Analytica and used to target ads to voters during the 2016 election. Without all that personal data, Cambridge Analytica would not have been able to do anything near what they accomplished.
Cambridge Analytica is backed by the notorious billionaire Mercer family, the family that is trying to use their fortune to buy our politicians and spread propaganda to warp our democracy, all for the sake of their monumental greed. Their use of money may be legal, but it is profoundly unAmerican and undemocratic. They funded the vile alt-right publication Breitbart news and were big supporters of former White House staffer Steve Bannon. They were also large donors to our own Rep. John Faso, and they fund Reclaim New York.
Reclaim New York is an organization that tries to recruit local citizens to help in attacking local governments with burdensome Freedom of Information Act requests for documents, ostensibly looking for wasteful spending. These requests cost local governments time and money, and create a pretext for Reclaim to criticize government and cast those who support government as elites or tools of the deep state or whomever else their paranoia wishes to scapegoat.
But I suspect their effort also accomplishes something more significant. When Reclaim recruits local people to join their “government haters club” they usually do so on the internet through social media. When anyone expresses interest in Reclaim’s mission, their individual data gets captured and they join a growing database of local people who are predisposed to being receptive to other conservative messages. When an election draws near, Reclaim turns to their like-minded database to either recruit for direct action or bombard with Facebook propaganda. In other words, Reclaim New York could ultimately be a data mining operation. After all, it’s what the Mercers do.
It is becoming increasingly critical to push back against the power of plutocrats like the Mercers. We have to shame Rep John Faso for any association he maintains with the Mercers, now tainted by their connection with the improperly obtained Facebook data (not to mention Breitbart and Bannon). The ultimate power we can exert on the Mercers and their plutocrat ilk is to defeat their minions at the ballot box. We will have our first real chance to do so this November, and the stakes are too high for us to fail. Keep working to prevail…