The Little Black Book of Data and Democracy
How much data does Facebook really have on me? What is a cookie on the Internet? Is my Amazon Alexa listening to me? Why can’t I seem to stop scrolling endlessly down my Instagram feed? Did social media really help cause an attempted coup in the United States?
How did we go from short, 140-character tweets to attempted coups in less than two decades? How much data does Facebook really have on me? Is my Amazon Alexa listening to me? The Little Black Book of Data and Democracy demystifies these seemingly complex topics to help you understand how our very way of life is under threat and what you can do about it before it’s too late.
Powered by your personal data, social media has transformed our way of life, from how we get information, meet people and create increasingly siloed communities. This has had a profound impact on democratic society. Our shared reality – the way we collectively understand the world – has rapidly been replaced by conflicting micro-realities that are often fueled by conspiracy theories, lies and “fake news.” This has been driven by a business model that supposedly gives us everything for free. All we have to do is give up our personal data and privacy. If you aren’t paying for the product, then you are the product.
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Kyle Taylor is the Founder and Director of Fair Vote UK, which published whistleblower evidence of Vote Leave’s lawbreaking in the EU referendum and supported Chris Wylie’s whistleblower revelations around Cambridge Analytica’s global data theft and misappropriation. He is a leading campaigner on digital democracy reform and platform regulation in the UK and internationally. Kyle was the Campaign Director and Chief of Staff to a UK government minister and has worked on half a dozen election campaigns in the UK and the USA, including the 2016 US Presidential Campaign and the 2020 US Georgia Senate Runoff, which Democrats won by less than 56,000 votes.
Praise for The Little Black Book
“The issues with internet platforms are well known, but few of us understand the details. In The Little Black Book of Data and Democracy, Kyle Taylor tells us what we need to know and what we can do about it. Everyone should read this book!”
— Roger McNamee, author of the New York Times best seller Zucked: Waking Up to the Facebook Catastrophe
“A short & practical guide on the shocking truth of how our personal data is being used to undermine democracy”
— Carole Cadwalladr, Guardian & Observer Journalist, 2018 Orwell Prize Winner & 2019 Pulitzer Prize Finalist
“Fresh, engaging and absolutely essential reading for anyone wondering how we piece society back together”
— Katharina Gellein Viken, Director, People You May Know
“The Little Black Book of Data and Democracy is, at once, a uniquely accessible primer on how Big Tech functions, a sophisticated analysis of how surveillance capitalism is eroding our consensus reality, and a rousing call-to-action. Kyle Taylor has done a tremendous service by demystifying this existential threat to democracy and offering a roadmap for progress at both the personal and societal level.”
— Jesse Lehrich, Co-founder of Accountable Tech and former foreign policy spokesperson for Hillary Clinton
“Approachable and funny, yet deadly serious. It took us three years to make a film to explain the complex issues distilled so expertly in this little black book.”
— Jeff Orlowski, Director of The Social Dilemma
“This book will change the way you use the internet overnight. It is the most complete, comprehensive and timely guide to exactly what happens when we go online. Read it, then read it again”
— Caolan Robertson, Co-Founder of FutureFreedom, Director at BylineTV
“When I blew the whistle on the Brexit campaign & Conservative government, I was thrust into the public eye with violent ferocity. Taylor played a central role in translating what was a deeply sinister and complex scandal to the everyday person – guiding me closely on how to explain what had happened to people who didn’t know the world I knew.
“Without his guidance & ability to understand and translate complex political systems, the Cambridge Analytica scandal and subsequent Brexit criminality would not have had such massive public impact. His campaigning and his political ferocity was key to the success and extent of our campaign & whistleblowing. We all owe Taylor a lot in this long fight against the tyranny and violence that social media & data has brought to our democratic systems. If we are to make any real change for the better, then we will need the 12 year old girl in Alabama, all the way to the 80 year old man in London to understand data and its impact on democracy.
“I wish I had had this little black book by my side when I blew the whistle. I am excited for millions of people to finally have access to a conversation that has felt inaccessible for so long. Awareness & education about this new world is integral to creating systemic, structural changes for us to protect democracy and ensure the far right do not continue their tirade. Read it. Then gift it to your grandpa, your aunt, your cousin and (if you have them) your children.”
— Shahmir Sanni, Disinformation specialist and Vote Leave Whistleblower
“Do you want to be a product or a user? Next to teaching how broken our internet is, this book also empowers us with practical tools and actions to minimise our digital fingerprints. It gears us to resist online manipulation and build awareness in our societies. Get inspired”
— Mikko Salo, Founder of Faktabaari (FactBar), pioneering Finnish digital information literacy and fact-checking service.