Cambridge Analytica, a company which specialises in behaviour change, is credited, along with Facebook, with Donald Trump’s victory in the US Presidential election victory on 8/11/2016.
The homepage of Cambridge Analytica’s website says “Data drives all that we do. Cambridge Analytica uses data to change audience behavior [sic].’ This is an acknowledgement that peer-group pressure controls the behaviour of most people.
Peer-group pressure is the single most important factor controlling ordinary human behaviour. On the other hand, Christianity is counter-cultural in that Jesus Christ taught His disciples to resist the wickedness of the times.
Jesus is the most radical teacher the world has ever known, and His teaching has changed the history of the world, turning it from its naturally aggressive behaviour to loving one another through the love of God.
His radical teaching changed people’s views about God, man’s origins, man’s destiny, man’s behaviour in sex, marriage and divorce, money management, attitudes towards the poor and poverty and how to relate to and to treat our fellow human beings. He upset the religious establishment of His day and ever since. He taught that Christian behaviour is counter-intuitive and counter-cultural, and thus it challenges peer or social pressure.
Only the regenerating power of the Spirit of God can resist and break through peer pressure. Jesus taught: ‘If the Son of God shall make you free, you shall be free indeed’ Jn 8:36.
Jesus warns: ‘How can you believe, who receive honour from one another and do not seek the honour that comes from God only?’ Jn 5:44. ‘I know you, that you do not have the love of God in you’ Jn 5:42.
When Saul of Tarsus, the rabid persecutor of Christians, was converted to Jesus’ teaching, he spread the message of Christian love far and wide. In his letters he guides the Christian church how to interact with a sinful world driven by peer pressure.
Paul warns against this sin of submitting to peer pressure, that ‘so easily besets us’ Heb 12:1.
“The sin that so easily besets us” has been variously interpreted by Christians as unbelief, or one’s personal, prevailing sin, or whatever, but these are just guesses and do not arise from proper exegesis of the text. Rather, it is the sin which characterises our surrounding peer group, “which besets us round about” Jdg 19:22, Jdg 20:5, Ps 22:12, Ps 139:5, Hos 7:2 and Heb 12:1. This is peer-group pressure.
Peer pressure can turn the Christian back to worldly behaviour and worldly religion, and it will divert them from running the Christian race towards heaven. Teenagers are particularly vulnerable to peer pressure. Social media acts as an echo-chamber and pressurises teenagers, sometimes into committing suicide. This illustrates the strength and danger of peer pressure.
Welcome to the liberating teaching of the Son of God, Who teaches you to break free from the chains of self-destructive thinking.
19 Aug 2017: Market research surveys.
25 Sep 2017: the power of shame and peer pressure is stronger than death.
6 Nov 2017: a celebrity Christian has been bent by peer pressure and is being straightened by pressure from his publisher.
8 Jan 2018: Peer pressure among academics.
17 Mar 2018: Facebook has suspended Cambridge Analytica for misuse of its data.
19 Mar 2018: the UK’s Information Commissioner is seeking a warrant to investigate Cambridge Analytica, accused of misusing the personal data of 50 million Facebook members during the American Presidential election. The video interview with the whistleblower can be viewed here.
20 Mar 2018: Alexander Nik, the CEO of Cambridge Analytica, has been suspended pending investigations. Facebook and Twitter shares have fallen 10% in two days on suspicion that Facebook’s data has been used for mass surveillance by Cambridge Analytica.
21 Mar 2018: Trying to find the scapegoat. Facebook has stated that passing on scraped data to a third party is not a data breach. Some hints on protecting Facebook data. It would be much easier to live by Christian principles in the first place. Where were the Christians?
2 May 2018: Cambridge Analytica bites the dust and closes down.
19 Dec 2018: Facebook sued by US prosecutor over Cambridge Analytica.
10 Sep 2019: the limitations of Peer Review and where it may lead you.
30 Sep 2019: BBC bows to peer pressure.