Kaiser reveals the disturbing truth about the multi-billion-dollar data industry, revealing how companies are getting richer using our personal information and exposing how Cambridge Analytica exploited weaknesses in privacy laws to help elect Donald Trump--and how this could easily happen again in the 2020 presidential election.
... a rarity: a book that is both important and gripping. It is Kaiser’s account of her time working for SCL Group and its spinoff company Cambridge Analytica. And it is a vital story to tell ... could not be more contemporary ... what makes Kaiser’s book so vital is that it covers far more than just this. Beyond the story of the rise and fall of Cambridge Analytica, it is about the experience that awaits all of us in a society that has reconfigured itself around a new and overarching source of power: data ... The book, [Kaiser] says, is part of the same urge to make amends, which she does with aplomb. Kaiser knows how to tell a story (it helps to have such great material), and the prose is energetic and clear. Her style is, on occasion, jarring and labored ... She also too often settles for the cliche...But this rarely distracts from the message of a book that is urgent and profound ... And it is profound because it is ultimately a cautionary tale about the new data-centric world in which we live.
... by the end of it you get the sense that [Kaiser] is more concerned with her own legacy than reckoning with any wrongdoing of her own part ... Kaiser gets in her own digs at Wylie here — all of which is: 1. Fun, if you, like me, love petty beefs, but 2. A bit disheartening all around ... what Targeted offers that other Cambridge Analytica look-backs don't is a more in-the-room account of what exactly, she alleges, was in the Powerpoint pitch deck ... Where the book is less concrete is when it comes to Kaiser's own reckoning with how dangerous Cambridge Analytica actually was. Unlike the Wylie book, Kaiser cops to being swept up in the romance of it all ... There's a victim-blamey tone here coming from someone who knows all too well the obfuscating language of terms of service, and it sidesteps the issue that it was Cambridge Analytica using this ethically suspect data ... Kaiser is something of an advocate for data and privacy rights these days. But if that's to be her legacy over her work with Cambridge Analytica, it's going to take a lot more than this book to get there.
... aggrieved and self-pitying ... after reading Kaiser’s [memoir], you’ll wonder whether she herself has learned much of anything at all ... she so strenuously insists how fundamentally decent she is that her awkward remonstrations have a perverse effect on her credibility. [Kaiser] is frequently 'humbled.' She is forever a 'human rights activist.' She is worldly and smart and spectacularly connected while nevertheless 'vulnerable' and helplessly 'naïve.' All of this makes for a bizarre book: Targeted has the slightly sweaty smell of someone trying to launder her reputation ... When it comes to personal revelations, the book is opaque and exceedingly repetitive, as if the prose had been pushed through the messaging mill of a P.R. firm. Kaiser concedes she did everything for the money — but even as she admits her actions might look 'selfish,' she maintains she was ultimately selfless.