Repost from HEWN. All Credit To Audrey Watters.
Facebook, in many ways, is the arch nemesis of Whole Human Development. FB is kind of a Bizarro World version of WHD. It's community based, its about networking, it's fueled by interaction, its supposed to be about information and shared human experiences... But that's where the commonalities end.
Where SOL and WHD are about interdisciplinary insights and networks designed to debug cognitive biases and thinking errors, FB thrives on biases and thinking errors.
While SOL is about empowering individuals with actualization and autonomy, FB cultivates regression to the mean, and codependency.
As SOL utilizes archetypes and personality types to encourage empathy and interconnectivity. FB uses personality profiling to divide, conquer, and exploit.
While SOLedu was not created for flame wars against any platform, let alone the largest organization humanity has ever seen.
SOLeducation.org was created to provide people with tools and concepts in the pursuit of integrating wisdom from the past with developing technology. But, it is important for us to point out the corrupted collapse of Facebook's potential.
This piece by Audrey Watters is just one critique of many, for more read: Quitting Facebook by Jason Zook or Antisocial by Paul Jarvis.
But, without anymore delay: HEWN, No. 258, by Audrey Watters:
There has been very little response in education publications to the biggest technology story of the week: that Cambridge Analytica, a British political consulting firm with ties to the Trump campaign, harvested the data of some 50 million American Facebook users without their consent, ostensibly to help build psychographic profiles of voters. And I admit: I’m sort of surprised by the silence – this story involves some of the most hyped education technologies in recent years: big data, assessments, analytics, personalization, nudges. Sure, Education Week talked to some privacy advocates about the implications of a loss of trust in Facebook and, more broadly, in ed-tech companies’ data collection practices; and Edsurge noted – duly noted, with a hashtag in the headline and everything – that some students simply can’t #deletefacebook. (The Chan Zuckerberg Initiative, a sponsor of Edsurge, must have been quite pleased that this was the angle the publication took.)
I’ll chalk up the lack of responses in the education media to the excuse I’m using: it was a busy week, and me, I’m up against a big deadline. (A book proposal!) So, a shout-out to Dan Cohen, Librarian Shipwreck, and Autumm Caines who did tackle the topic on their blogs. And mad respect to David Carroll and Paul Olivier-Dehaye, two academics who have been on the Cambridge Analytica story for a very, very long time.
If there is one article I would insist those in education / technology read this weekend, it’s this one by Ben Williamson: “Learning from psychographic personality profiling.” Really. Read it.
The stakes are incredibly high here – and it’s not just a matter of student privacy or information security. It's not just a matter of data mining and learning analytics. Nor is it simply a matter of the billions of dollars that the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative alone is funneling into “personalized learning” products and policies. As Williamson argues, the kinds of promises that Cambridge Analytica has made – whether you believe the company can fulfill those promises or not – are not that far afield from those being pitched to schools and to policymakers. The OECD, for example, plans to test students on “social and personality skills” as part of its Programme for International Student Assessment – better known by its acronym, PISA.
… [P]ersonality profiling – the production of psychographic renderings of human characteristics – is not just confined to Cambridge Analytica, or to Facebook, or to the wider data analytics and advertising industries. Instead, the science of personality testing is slowly entering into education as a form of behavioural governance.
The OECD test is not that dissimilar to the personality quiz at the heart of the Cambridge Analytica/Facebook scandal. The same psychological assumptions and personality assessment methods underpin both. And while Cambridge Analytica appears to have been an unofficial instrument of a potential government, the OECD assessment is supposed to be a policy instrument of global governance – encouraging national departments of education to focus on calculated levels of student personality. The OECD assessment of social-emotional skills shares personality testing approaches with the Cambridge Analytica personality quiz, and its results are intended to support political decisionmaking.
There are already a slew of ed-tech products on the market that claim to improve student behavior and encourage “good” character skills through data collection and profiling. ClassDojo is perhaps the best known of these. There’s been a powerful push in recent years for better “social emotional learning” and behavior modification curricula and assessments, and the echoes of this push are now evident throughout the education system – in products, policies, and everyday classroom practices. The kinds of profiling that Cambridge Analytica claims to offer is at the core of many, many narratives being told about the future of education. It’s certainly at the core of Mark Zuckerberg’s. I’d say it’s at the core of Bill Gates’ too. Seems like ed-tech proponents should be talking about this...
Other thoughts on Facebook and Cambridge Analytica: “My Cow Game Extracted Your Facebook Data” by Ian Bogost. “Facebook’s Surveillance Machine” by Zeynep Tufekci. “Silicon Valley Has Failed to Protect Our Data. Here’s How to Fix It,” says Paul Ford. “Cloak and Data: The Real Story Behind Cambridge Analytica’s Rise and Fall” by Andy Kroll.
Other stories about education, resistance, and compliance: Dara Horn on Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle and the tales we tell children about conformity. “At Columbia, Revisiting the Revolutionary Students of 1968” by Jennifer Schuessler.
Yours in struggle,