2014 in L'Alpe di Siusi, fresh from the US and Australia.
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Most of us have heard by now (March of 2018) about the scandal that has emerged about the abuse of data by the British firm Cambridge Analytica and its connection with users of Facebook. It has come at a time when the British government is under increasing pressure over the Brexit negotiations, when the sitting Prime Minister is weak, amidst the scandal about the alleged poisoning of a double agent on British soil by Russia – a story that is full of holes – and increasing pressure on Donald Trump over his alleged connections with Russia about swaying the 2016 election, as well as his very real financial connections with that nation. The US media has been awash with the Russia-gate story, with allegations, mostly from Democrats, that Trump colluded with Russia to swing the election in his favor. That is another story in itself, much of which is false, but is used to great effect as a propaganda tool against Russia. The true reason Trump won the election has far more to do with domestic troubles than with foreign influence. But there is another side to that story, too, and it lies with details that have recently come to light around a previously little-known organization called Cambridge Analytica (‘CA’ hereafter). What has been exposed in recent days (2018) is that CA, rather than Russian troll farms, was allegedly actively employed by the Trump campaign to swing voter opinions in his favor by mining data from Facebook accounts and then targeting voters, apparently with enough influence to push him over the line to victory in the election. Russia actually had nothing to do with Cambridge Analytica and that whole scandal story has been debunked. There is some very interesting astrology that emerges from a study of this Facebook scandal, though, and we will outline it here as we go along.
There is quite a lot that can be gleaned about an internet company from when it first appears on the internet as a bona fide (registered) website. Essentially, there are two charts which can be drawn with an internet company – the date of its registration, which sets the intention, and the date of its public launch, which shows the public face. The easiest way to get information on the registration of an internet site is to go to www.whois.com/whois/ and type in the URL of the site. Facebook was first registered online as www.thefacebook.com, buying the current domain name later from the people who had the www.facebook.com originally. The site www.thefacebook.com was first registered on 11 Jan 2004 at 9:53 am PST at Menlo Park, CA, US, which is where their headquarters is located. There is another chart that has been circulating in various posts that gives a 4 Feb 2004 date, which is the date of its public launch. We will have a look at both charts here and the reader can decide which one fits better. Looking at all of these charts has made for a very interesting and informative exercise. But then, in terms of the scandal we also have to look at the chart of CA, too, and put it against the chart(s) of Facebook. Cambridge Analytica was registered on April Fools’ Day of 2014 at 17:59 UT (‘zulu time’, listed in Whois data) in London – a fitting date for a scandal if ever there was one. We will have a look at that chart first.
The scandal began to unfold on 16 Mar 18. It had been described thus:
“…media reports broke an expose about how London-based data analytics firm Cambridge Analytica harvested private information from more than 50 million Facebook users in developing techniques to support US President Donald Trump’s 2016 election campaign, sparking fresh outcry over data privacy violations at the world’s largest social media network.”
The story doesn’t end there, though. It had since been revealed that the same firm was also involved with the Brexit campaign in the UK for the ‘Leave’ side, as well as being paid for work in influencing elections in Kenya and other places. There is a video exposé on the sorts of dirty tricks that were employed by Cambridge Analytica and their subcontractors in all of these campaigns. The company emerged from another firm (SCL Group) which specialized in military intelligence and psychological warfare. There is another video that outlines how CA was employed by the Trump campaign via Steve Bannon and the Mercer family. And lastly, but certainly not least, CA was apparently involved in the Brexit campaign through one of its linked companies, AggregateIQ, based in Canada, the latter having developed the software that was used to mine people’s data. So, with all the preceding points in mind, what is emerging is a fairly sleazy tale of dirty tricks, psychological warfare, invasion of people’s privacy, data usury for less than scrupulous intentions, and so forth. More than that, though, it was largely ineffective as a means of swinging people’s votes. What matters here is the massive media campaign around it, the domestic political angle and the experiments in control of the public discourse. In all, we could probably say that it is politics as usual. We will start with the chart of CA and see what it turns up for us. The chart is shown below, from its Whois.com data:
The most prominent feature of the chart is the t-square formed by the Jupiter/Pluto opposition straddling the meridian axis with a Sun/Uranus conjunction at the apex. The latter conjunction is also conjunct the Vertex of the chart, all in the 7th house – partnerships, litigation, open enemies and combativeness in general, further emphasized by the latter being in Aries. The Vertex connection points to the use of technology (Uranus) to open new perspectives/dimensions and the effort to carry out reforms (the Sun/Uranus combination). Jupiter, elevated and in the 10th house (the public face and sitting administrations), rules the 3rd house (intelligence services, data in general and communications). The ruler of the Libran Ascendant, Venus, is in the 5th house, which rules a raft of things, leading to quite a bit of personal information: pastimes, entertainments, recreation, teachers and universities as they relate to students, even pornography – all of it quite revealing as to our personalities if one knows how to read the psychology of such things, which is one of the areas of expertise of the staff of Cambridge Analytica.
Venus is square to Saturn, the latter ruling the 4th house (opposition parties and anarchists) and in the 2nd house (finances and banking). The 1st house (the intention of the chart and the public mood) contains Mars, ruler of the 7th house, which is trine to Venus and linked to Mercury by quincunx. The square of Saturn to the ruler of the 1st house indicates the very controlling and calculating nature of the information the company gathers and the influence of big money and/or conservatives, used to influence public opinion. The Martian influence shows the ‘militarization’ of data, via Mercury. And Mercury, co-ruling the 9th and 12th houses, shows the use of the data (Mercury) for foreign influence (9th house) and for subversive purposes (12th house). Interestingly, Mercury is in the 6th house of the chart (the police, the military, volunteer services, and services in general), and trine to Saturn. That trine indicates the effectiveness with which the company is able to mine and utilize the data, which it has done to great effect.
Summarizing, then, the aforementioned t-square carries a theme of plutocracy (Jupiter/Pluto) from the outset, with the aim of exploiting the masses (Pluto in the 4th house), with the apex planets adding to the extraordinary effects brought through the analyses of the data, as in election or referendum upsets, sudden turnarounds, the ability to adjust quickly and easily to every twist and turn in circumstances, and so forth. It is a very potent configuration, with the tendency to be quite exploitative (that was its purpose anyway), very clinical and even heavy-handed in its approach (Venus/Saturn square), subversive of the public sentiment and opposition parties (Pluto in the 4th), and all with the aim of influencing elections for the financing party, the electoral influence shown by the Jupiter/Pluto base of the t-square. It was a plutocrat, Robert Mercer, who invested in the company on the initiative of Steve Bannon, the latter being manager of Breitbart News at the time and who went on to become the manager of the Trump campaign in 2016 and Trump’s chief strategist in the White House for a time. The parent company of CA, the SCL Group, went on to contract with the US Department of State, going on to pitch sales to the Pentagon. The company now has profiles on 230 million Americans alone, not to mention other countries:
“And the idea they bought into was to bring big data and social media to an established military methodology – “information operations” – then turn it on the US electorate”. That was the aim, anyway. The media narrative was Donald Trump was the result, and it worked among liberal voters. And what was Facebook’s role in this? Probably unwitting, as it turns out, at least initially.
Turning to the Facebook chart, then, this chart (above) shows quite a different dynamic from the 4 Feb 2004 chart that I have seen circulating in various posts. But in fact, the chart shown above perhaps shows the character of Facebook more clearly than does the February chart. And, it shows the fortunes – or perhaps in this case we should say misfortunes – of Facebook rather clearly. Several things immediately stand out, which go a ways toward explaining what we are seeing in the news now about this scandal. The most immediate thing is the elevated Pluto on the Midheaven in the 10th house, square to the Jupiterian ruler of that house, Sagittarius. This is very similar in its effects to the Jupiter/Pluto opposition in CA’s chart, and also shows the influence of plutocrats – Mark Zuckerberg, in this case. It also shows Zuckerberg’s initial less than flattering attitude toward Facebook users. In addition, we find a high-achieving Capricorn Sun square to Mars in Aries, which Mars rules, indicating a high nervous tension, and we might say, contributing to the addictive nature of the site. If we include Ceres (and I always do), then Mars makes the apex of a t-square with the Sun/Ceres opposition. The Sun is in the 11th house, giving an Aquarian feel to the chart, and allowing people to connect with friends and express their hopes and wishes. The 11th is a group house and Facebook has indeed been a worldwide group effort, allowing friends to connect in ways that were not possible previously, and to make contacts across the globe. It quickly became much more than that. It is now a go-to source for employers to check out prospective employees, for example, for corporate advertising and of individual initiatives, instant messaging, video calls in the same vein as Skype, public and private groups, a news source and more. In its essence, it is a very useful tool if properly used and protected, but the latter is where the problems came in.
The success of the site is marked by several factors, starting with the Sun/Jupiter trine, an indicator of great luck and wealth, coupled with the Capricorn Sun, perhaps one of the luckiest aspects one could have in a chart. Mark Zuckerberg skyrocketed in his personal wealth as a result of Facebook, to become one of the richest people in the world. His own chart contains a Jupiter/Saturn sextile, which is another ‘wealth aspect’. The Facebook chart also has Jupiter conjunct the Vertex, which has opened a door to other realities for many people who would not have otherwise done so. And, the Jupiter/Vertex conjunction is sextile Ceres, that aspect channeling the dynamic tension of the t-square in a very constructive and expansive manner. The mass appeal of the site is indicated, aside from other factors, by the Pisces ascendant, the Moon on the descendant sextile to Saturn, and by the elevated Pluto on the Midheaven.
The 4 Feb 2004 launch chart is shown below, but without a time of day (noon chart):
Without a time of day it is difficult to say too much about that chart since we have no field of experience indicated, but there are several indicators that support the registration chart. The Sun is in Aquarius, giving the public appeal, conjunct Neptune, creating its allure, and linked to Jupiter by quincunx, further adding to the attractive nature of the site, the wealth it has generated, and its wide reach. We find the same Jupiter/Pluto square as in the registration chart (there were only a few weeks separating the two events). Both charts contain a Mercury/Venus sextile, giving an idealism to the site as well as showing the ease of communication and the ‘speaking quality’ of it. Venus may or may not be trine the Moon in the launch chart, but if so would add greatly to the public appeal. And, there may or may not be a t-square with a Moon/Mercury opposition at the base with a Mars apex, which would show the inflamed passions on issues we often see on the message boards there. But without a time of day, we cannot say definitively which chart better shows the fortunes of the site. The registration chart, however, clearly shows the scandal that has engulfed Facebook.
In June of 2014, (no exact date given) an app was launched on Facebook called “thisisyourdigitallife”, which 270,000 people signed up for. It was done surreptitiously as to motive, having been developed by an employee of the SCL group. The app was designed on the premise that previous researchers had “…found ways to determine someone’s intelligence or political views based on what cosmetics or food they enjoyed.” This idea harks back to the 5th house placement of Venus in the CA chart. It was not ethical in the least in the way it was used, because no one was informed as to its true purpose, nor were they informed that all of their friends’ data was to be mined as well. Of interest, Pluto rules mining, placed in the 4th house of the CA chart, the latter ruling the general public and homeland, along with opposition parties. In this case, we are looking at ‘data mining’. At any rate, the result was that 50 million Facebook users’ data was appropriated and used to target Facebook users in the election of Donald Trump. That data was used in two main ways: to paint Hillary Clinton as evil and otherwise in a bad light, and to extol the ‘virtues’ of Donald Trump. ‘Russian influence’ in the election pales in comparison to this. Some of the memes that were likely mined from the data later, adapted as monikers and which were then handed to Trump for his campaign were “drain the swamp”, “crooked Hillary”, “Build that wall!”, among the more famous.
If we look at the Facebook (FB hereafter) registration chart, solely with the transits for June 2014, the story of what happened stands out fairly clearly. Neptune was retrograde, transiting back across the Ascendant of the FB chart, showing the hidden agenda and the deception, and the target group (Ascendant), which were the people who signed up for the app and their FB friends. Saturn, also retrograde, was conjunct the south node in the 8th house (foreign financing, losses of data, hidden organizations) in Scorpio, opposite Venus conjunct the north node in the 2nd house (financial gains for FB, self-esteem), showing the inducement to try the app. The Venus/Saturn opposition in this case exhibited an exploitation of FB users, and with the nodal axis represented the illegitimate use of the app. Uranus was conjunct the FB Mars, showing the use of technology (Uranus) and the energizing (Mars) of FB users to try the app. Uranus in the FB chart rules the 12th house (hidden enemies, covert actions), and Uranus transits to Mars can represent hastiness, impulsiveness and accidents, as well as sudden changes in fortune.
Neptune was opposite the FB moon, which rules the FB 5th house, going again back to the idea of recreational activities as indicators of personality types and voter preferences, mentioned previously. The real prize and goal in this for the developers of the app was not the 270,000+ people who signed on for the app, but the data of the 50 million friends. ‘Friends’ in this case is represented by Saturn in the FB chart (ruling the 11th house of friends). And, being conjunct the south node in the transits for June of 2014, that represented the data leak (south node). Lastly, the launching of the app on FB created a wound and loss of faith in FB that would come back to haunt it in 2018, represented by the transit of Chiron square to the Meridian axis. The transits to the FB launch chart are not nearly so indicative, and because there is no time of day, we will not go into that here.
There was also significant solar arc activity to the FB registration chart at the time the app was launched, again not being so much seen in the FB launch chart. The most significant solar arcs were of Mercury opposite the FB Saturn, representing the deep data mining and investigations into personality types and probable voter preferences. There was a solar arc of Saturn opposite Chiron, representing the betrayal of the friends and the users of the app. There was a solar arc of the FB Midheaven to the FB Mercury, representing the public launch of the app and its appeal to the wider public, and a solar arc of the Moon and the Ascendant to Jupiter (ruling the Midheaven), further reinforcing the success of the app launch. But that was just the beginning. In the months that followed, up to the heat of the US election campaign in 2016, the solar arc activity became much more intense, and this is where we would have seen the greatest activity, both of the use of the app and of the posts on FB in general. It was indeed a very heated and active time for the site and for the app. We won’t go into all of that here. Moving up to today, what do we see?
The scandal broke, as stated, on 16 Mar 18. If we look at the solar arcs to the FB registration chart, we see a solar arc of Saturn to both the Moon and the Ascendant, showing the gravity of the scandal, as well as it being a ‘learning experience’, ‘karma coming home to roost’ and a sort of life milestone for the site. Saturn represents ‘reality checks’ among other things, and if nothing else, this episode has certainly given people pause to think about internet privacy and what they really want to put online, and how personal they want to be online. It has been a sobering wake-up. In addition, there was a solar arc of the Sun to Pluto and the Vertex, showing the reality of the scandal and revealing the hidden side of what has happened. There was a solar arc of the Midheaven to Jupiter, putting the very public face on the event. But probably the most revealing one was a solar arc of Neptune to Venus, showing the betrayal of friends and relatives, the disillusionment with the site and the resulting loss of revenue. When we put these with the transits, two things stand out – a transit of Pluto to the FB Sun, indicative of the scandal and loss of face, and a transit of Saturn opposite the FB Saturn, indicating the need for a serious reassessment of security issues (Saturn) and protection (also Saturn) of people’s data. Again, there is not much that we can say about the FB launch chart as to the transits and solar arcs to that chart, except for a couple of points.
When the scandal broke there was a solar arc of Mars to the FB Sun in the launch chart, as well as a solar arc of Saturn opposite Chiron. These show the anger (Mars) toward the site and the deep wound that people felt. There was also a solar arc of Mars to the north node, given the quarrelsome nature of the event and the justified anger people feel about it. As to transits, there was a transit of Uranus square to Mercury, indicating the shock people felt about the news, as well as the sudden turn in events for the site. And, there was a transit of Pluto to Chiron, laying bare the wound, but also inviting healing.
And to round out the discussion, it is worth taking note of the relationship between CA and the FB registration charts, shown below:
This synastry will be somewhat similar to what we saw with the launch of the ‘thisisyourdigitallife’ app, in that CA was founded a mere couple of months before the app was launched. But there is some fascinating synastry, nonetheless. The immediate thing that stands out is the Venus conjunction between the two organizations. This does not necessarily mean friendship, although it often does. Instead, it implies a close connection. I have seen similar Venus contacts between bitter enemies. The importance here is connection. We see the CS Neptune on the FB Ascendant, again indicating the less-than-open connection on the part of CA. The FB Mars is opposite the CA Mars, indicating the conflict to come in the future, although initially it was an energizing influence. The CA Sun is conjunct the FB Mars, along with the CA Uranus and Vertex, and this is the horizon axis of CA. The conjunction of those factors with the FB Mars shows both the foreign influence (FB 9th house) along with the revenue (2nd house) FB would have received from the use of the app. Those factors also would have initially energized FB users initially to use the app. The CA Midheaven is conjunct the FB Saturn, hooking in the data of FB friends (Saturn ruling the FB 11th house) for use by the owners of CA (the CA MC, or 10th house). That Midheaven also represented the FB security breach, since Saturn rules boundaries and security issues. Security is weak on Facebook, or at least has been, indicated by the retrograde Saturn in Cancer, the sign of Saturn’s detriment. Security is also indicated buy the 4th house in general, ruled by Mercury in the case of FB, which is semisquare to Neptune in the FB chart. There is more we could say, but this should suffice.
In all, given the preceding, this event has served to highlight many things. Firstly, it gives us – or should do – pause to think carefully before we put anything online, especially personal information. All of the big data companies (Google, Facebook, Twitter, etc.) keep logs of information on every online activity we engage. If you really want to scare yourself, there are ways that we can examine this data. It is actually quite astounding. And, this is the sort of information that can be used against people quite easily by more unscrupulous types. Secondly, this scandal highlights the fact that elections are won and lost via data manipulation and then using that to target groups and individuals, influencing them to change their votes, to not vote, or to rally them to vote. The pull is emotional, rather than being fact-based. This is especially used in close campaigns, such as we saw in the US 2016 election and the Brexit referendum. Thirdly, it shows us that if we use an online device, then we really have no privacy. Any hack of a server, like Google or Microsoft, for instance, leaves us wide open to manipulation and theft. So, it is a reminder to change our passwords frequently on such sites, to use strong passwords (‘love’ or ‘p@ssword’, for example, just will not do these days). My personal recommendation would be to use a password generator and to keep a log of those passwords off of your computer. The same applies to any financial or medical records. Yes, it’s a bit of a pain, but it is not so difficult once you get used to it. Computers and routers can be hacked, and sometimes, sadly, family and friends are not as trustworthy as we might suppose or wish. We cannot be too careful these days. Stay away from ‘community use’ of computers and be careful who you let onto your own.
And lastly, if you are one of the unfortunate people who has had your data lifted from Facebook, well, you are not alone. But, there is not much we can do that now, and probably most of the people reading this have been affected. However, the one thing we can do is to push hard for greater security on all of these sites, for net neutrality and to investigate alternatives to those sites. And while it is convenient to synch all of one’s apps and devices together, it is probably not the best approach, because that, too, leaves us open to data breaches. Just a few words to the wise, as very basic measures. And as for elections, the bottom line there is to research the candidates and issues, stick to the facts and watch out for the jerking knee and the feel-good rapport with people of like public opinion. An open eye and a discriminating mind are our best defense against election fraud, seeing that we have midterm elections coming up in the US.