'Useful Idiots' Podcast: Tech Entrepreneur Antonio García Martínez - Rolling Stone
Home Politics Politics News

‘Useful Idiots’ With Tech Entrepreneur Antonio García Martínez

Hosts Matt Taibbi and Katie Halper on Nancy Pelosi beefing with Wolf Blitzer, plus is big tech ‘mercenary or missionary’?

In this week’s quarantine episode of our Useful Idiots podcast, hosts Matt Taibbi and Katie Halper are joined by author and tech entrepreneur Antonio García Martínez.

Katie and Matt break down a contentious interview with Wolf Blitzer and Nancy Pelosi, which derailed when Blitzer questioned the reasoning for stalling the potential HEROES Act stimulus package.

“[Nancy Pelosi is] one woman who’s extremely rich and powerful, and if you’re more offended by a tone that you think Wolf Blitzer took with her,” says Katie, “if you care more about that than all the women who are out there suffering, not having their needs met, and who Nancy Pelosi is OK throwing under the bus, selling down the river… then Nancy Pelosi is perfect for you.”

Matt is perplexed at the Democrats’ strategy on this issue. “Is it just because they don’t want to give Trump the win?” asks Matt.

For “Republicans Suck,” Matt submits a recent Trump campaign ad that features images of Jackie Robinson and Martin Luther King Jr., and the parallels to George H.W. Bush’s use of the Bobby McFerrin song, “Don’t Worry Be Happy.”

“Trump just keeps doing this stuff. He keeps faux-enlisting people into his cause who really aren’t fans of his,” says Matt.

This week’s guest is poly-hyphenate Antonio García Martínez, a former product manager at Facebook and author of Chaos Monkeys. García Martínez gives a behind-the-scenes point of view into how Facebook and other social media platforms handle ad-targeting, debunking theories on how much data they really have on their users (and what they do with this data), while also explaining the potentially nefarious sides that do have some validity.

García Martínez has for years argued that the power of Cambridge Analytica has been overblown. He cites a recent report from the Information Commissioner’s Office in the U.K. that appears to unravel the accusations against Cambridge Analytica from two years ago, and how much influence they may have had on the 2016 U.S. presidential election

“Their biggest act of salesmanship, I think, was convincing journalists that their technology was amazing,” says García Martínez.

He also explains what psychographics targeting is, and how the technology behind ad-targeting works at places like Facebook. “It is itself a marketing gimmick,” says García Martínez.

“The reality is that most data that you inject into Facebook, things like conversations with your partner, pictures of you at a party, really have no commercial value,” says García Martínez. “The number of times that you actually mention commercial content in a conversation anywhere is not as high as you think, and even then, getting the sentiment around it would probably be really difficult.”

At the end of the day, García Martínez is not a tech evangelist, but he thinks the attacks on tech are overblown.

“It’s odd the turn that the media has taken against tech,” says García Martínez. “The avenues of attack they’ve taken just seem so basic and just wrong and little bit elementary.”


Powered by
Arrow Created with Sketch. Calendar Created with Sketch. Path Created with Sketch. Shape Created with Sketch. Plus Created with Sketch. minus Created with Sketch.