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Old 03-17-2018, 02:14 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Cambridge Analytica Files: ‘I created Steve Bannon’s psychological warfare tool’

Long article by Carole Cadwalladr in The Guardian which I've not finished reading yet, but this already makes very interesting reading indeed:
Quote:
For more than a year we’ve been investigating Cambridge Analytica and its links to the Brexit Leave campaign in the UK and Team Trump in the US presidential election. Now, 28-year-old Christopher Wylie goes on the record to discuss his role in hijacking the profiles of millions of Facebook users in order to target the US electorate
She goes on to explain,
Quote:
At 24, he came up with an idea that led to the foundation of a company called Cambridge Analytica, a data analytics firm that went on to claim a major role in the Leave campaign for Britain’s EU membership referendum, and later became a key figure in digital operations during Donald Trump’s election campaign.

Or, as Wylie describes it, he was the gay Canadian vegan who somehow ended up creating “Steve Bannon’s psychological warfare mindfuck tool”.

In 2014, Steve Bannon – then executive chairman of the “alt-right” news network Breitbart – was Wylie’s boss. And Robert Mercer, the secretive US hedge-fund billionaire and Republican donor, was Cambridge Analytica’s investor. 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.

It was Wylie who came up with that idea and oversaw its realisation. And it was Wylie who, last spring, became my source. In May 2017, I wrote an article headlined “The great British Brexit robbery”, which set out a skein of threads that linked Brexit to Trump to Russia. Wylie was one of a handful of individuals who provided the evidence behind it. I found him, via another Cambridge Analytica ex-employee, lying low in Canada: guilty, brooding, indignant, confused. “I haven’t talked about this to anyone,” he said at the time. And then he couldn’t stop talking.
And he kept the paperwork to prove his allegations, and has now gone public:
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Going public involves an enormous amount of risk. Wylie is breaking a non-disclosure agreement and risks being sued. He is breaking the confidence of Steve Bannon and Robert Mercer.

It’s taken a rollercoaster of a year to help get Wylie to a place where it’s possible for him to finally come forward. A year in which Cambridge Analytica has been the subject of investigations on both sides of the Atlantic – Robert Mueller’s in the US, and separate inquiries by the Electoral Commission and the Information Commissioner’s Office in the UK, both triggered in February 2017, after the Observer’s first article in this investigation.

It has been a year, too, in which Wylie has been trying his best to rewind – to undo events that he set in motion. Earlier this month, he submitted a dossier of evidence to the Information Commissioner’s Office and the National Crime Agency’s cybercrime unit. He is now in a position to go on the record: the data nerd who came in from the cold.
Certainly well worth a look.
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Old 03-18-2018, 04:31 PM   #2 (permalink)
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Update:
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Facebook and a US data firm, Cambridge Analytica, have been accused of "misleading" Parliament.

The Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Committee said both firms must answer more questions over claims that details from 50 million profiles were gathered without consent.
http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-43450127]

Looks like executives from both companies will be facing more questions from the Committee before long.

This kind of things give more weight to the sort of arguments advanced in The Guardian: No one can pretend Facebook is just harmless fun any more
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If ExxonMobil attempted to insert itself into every element of our lives [as does Facebook], there might be a concerted grassroots movement to curb its influence. So perhaps it’s time to start treating Facebook as the giant multinational corporation it is – especially because people with Facebook profiles aren’t the company’s customers: they are the product it sells to advertisers.
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Old 03-18-2018, 05:00 PM   #3 (permalink)
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Facebook says it's your own dang fault if the Trump campaign used your profile data during the 2016 election
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Facebook entered into a war of words with The New York Times today, disputing claims that a “data breach” allowed a third-party company working for the Trump campaign to harvest psychological information from as many as 50 million users’ profiles. The NYT story in question focuses on the rise of Cambridge Analytica, the Steve Bannon-named consulting company that did digital work for Trump during his 2016 presidential bid, and which reportedly acquired massive reams of Facebook data through the work of a scientist falsely claiming to be doing academic research.

Which, the social media company would like to be sure you understand, is your own damn fault if you fell for it. Bristling at the Times’ accusations of data breachery, the company says everyone whose information was collected by Aleksandr Kogan’s “thisisyourdigitallife” app—which Kogan then turned around and sold to Cambridge, in violation of Facebook’s policies—opted into the program of their own free will. And even if they didn’t directly—because Kogan’s app also scraped the profiles of its users’ friends—those people still opted in, because they weren’t sufficiently restrictive with their privacy settings. There are a lot of people at fault here, is the point, and none of them are Facebook, is what Facebook would mostly like you to know.
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Old 03-18-2018, 05:02 PM   #4 (permalink)
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It's OK though, Facebook dealt with the problem.

Facebook bans whistleblower who exposed Trump campaign-related data breach
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Anyway, having been publicly embarrassed by these ugly accusations, Facebook has decided to make sure it doesn’t happen again by banning Christopher Wylie. That’s sort of like taking a bank robber’s money sack away after they had already emptied it out and confessed to robbing a bank, except for the fact that Wylie personally having a Facebook page had literally nothing to do with any of this. But hey, at least we’re all safe now from some guy going on Facebook.
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Old 03-18-2018, 07:37 PM   #5 (permalink)
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The Financial Times reports
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Cambridge Analytica, the data firm alleged to have used the personal information of millions of Facebook users without their knowledge in its work for Donald Trump’s election campaign, is trying to stop the broadcast of an undercover Channel 4 News report [British TV station] in which its chief executive talks unguardedly about its practices.

Channel 4 reporters posed as prospective clients and had a series of meetings with Cambridge Analytica that they secretly filmed — including at least one with Alexander Nix, its chief executive. Channel 4 declined to comment.

Mr Nix referred the FT to Cambridge Analytica’s spokesperson when asked if he was aware of the Channel 4 report, which is due to air this week, according to people briefed on the situation. Cambridge Analytica’s spokesman declined to comment on the undercover Channel 4 report.
Evenote Link Because FT Paywall

The FT doesn't go into any details though, about what Cambridge Analytica is actually doing, and since neither Cambridge Analytica nor Channel 4 News will go on the record about it, it's hard to know what's going on.

I assume there's an application for an injunction in the works somewhere, pending a fuller hearing (we do have prior restraint in the UK).
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Old 03-18-2018, 11:21 PM   #6 (permalink)
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Old 03-19-2018, 05:36 AM   #7 (permalink)
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WTF?

I can MAYBE see about if you opted in to running something, even if it violated policies, as facebook says what they will be able to do (just last night I denied an app I wanted to use because their settings were too broad). I have 0 control over what other people do though.
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Old 03-19-2018, 05:43 AM   #8 (permalink)
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In many ways FB behaves like a small startup. They are something major now (I hesitate to say 'utility' but they are virtually synonymous with 'social network') and they should start acting so.
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Old 03-19-2018, 07:40 AM   #9 (permalink)
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In many ways FB behaves like a small startup. They are something major now (I hesitate to say 'utility' but they are virtually synonymous with 'social network') and they should start acting so.
Admitting that userdata was manipulated for evil would be kind of a blow to their business model of selling manipulatable user data.
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Old 03-19-2018, 07:51 AM   #10 (permalink)
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Admitting that userdata was manipulated for evil would be kind of a blow to their business model of selling manipulatable user data.
Time to tweak their model then. It is much better to get ahead of a problem and be able to claim you were a victim too then to come off looking like the bad guy.
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Old 03-19-2018, 07:59 AM   #11 (permalink)
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Old 03-19-2018, 09:51 AM   #12 (permalink)
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It is disturbing and shocking what can be accomplished with social media data. Cambridge Analytica was brought up a while ago and frankly, it is one of those things that should appall everyone on so many levels, but it is so insidiously subtle that it invokes the boiled frog analogy.

Big Data and the rise of nationalism

I fear it will only get worse and more brazen before people realize how evil it is and finally put up a fight against it...but who knows how much damage will be done or if we will be able to recover from it.
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Old 03-19-2018, 10:41 AM   #13 (permalink)
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Old 03-19-2018, 11:30 AM   #14 (permalink)
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So, after watching the full story, I've a question, you know, just out of curiosity...

What's the punishment for betraying your country? Or even lying to the government, presumably under oath?
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Old 03-19-2018, 11:35 AM   #15 (permalink)
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Originally Posted by Aribeth Zelin View Post
So, after watching the full story, I've a question, you know, just out of curiosity...

What's the punishment for betraying your country? Or even lying to the government, presumably under oath?
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Julius...thel_Rosenberg
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Old 03-19-2018, 11:48 AM   #16 (permalink)
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I know what it is in -our- country, but the guy in charge of CA is British and at best, lied to Parliment, about doing business with Russia.
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Old 03-19-2018, 12:43 PM   #17 (permalink)
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Originally Posted by Aribeth Zelin View Post
So, after watching the full story, I've a question, you know, just out of curiosity...

What's the punishment for betraying your country? Or even lying to the government, presumably under oath?
Lying to a Parliamentary Committee is Contempt of Parliament, whether or not you're on oath. Contempt of Parliament is a strange offence, dealt with not by the criminal justice system but by Parliament itself, and (at least in theory) is punishable by a fine or imprisonment as agreed by the House of Commons.

However, when dealing with someone who isn't a Member of Parliament, the worst they've done in recent history is hauled them before the Commons and reprimanded them.

If the witnesses were on oath (and I don't know if they were or not) then it's an offence under the Perjury Act, and punishable by up to 7 years' imprisonment. Not sure what they'd get in this case.

I don't think betraying their country (i.e. treason) could conceivably be relevant here, since we're not at war with either Russia or the USA.

ETA I think the worst consequences for the companies concerned would be that Parliament (and probably the EU too) would very likely start considering ways of bringing such activities under tighter regulatory scrutiny and control.

Last edited by Innula Zenovka; 03-19-2018 at 12:51 PM.
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Old 03-19-2018, 03:05 PM   #18 (permalink)
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So the FT got it wrong..


Article, and links to other videos in the series, here: https://www.channel4.com/news/cambri...-investigation

ETA: and the shit really does appear to have hit the fan -- https://www.channel4.com/news/cambri...ok-the-fallout

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Last edited by Innula Zenovka; 03-19-2018 at 03:17 PM.
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Old 03-19-2018, 03:34 PM   #19 (permalink)
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They may lose many N.American and European customers, i.e. many people will simply stop or change the way they have been using FB, but I many around the world will keep on using it because it's what they're used to.

This Time, Facebook Really Might Be Fucked - Gizmodo

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So after years of Facebook big shots telling us to just trust them when it comes to the ways it handles our data and targets us with advertising, a third-party allegedly violated Facebook’s trust. In the past, the company has met such scandals with a mixture of outright denials and promises to change, while mostly maintaining the status quo—and its bottom line just kept growing. On Monday, early market signs showed the dam could be breaking.

This morning, Reuters reported that Facebook’s stock fell more than 4 percent in premarket trading. That trend has continued thoughout the day, with the stock down about 6.42 percent at the time of writing. Ripple effects spread to the Dow and Nasdaq as well. And analysts are warning investors to stay away from buying the dip right now. According to Reuters:

...
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Old 03-19-2018, 03:44 PM   #20 (permalink)
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They may lose many N.American and European customers, i.e. many people will simply stop or change the way they have been using FB, but I many around the world will keep on using it because it's what they're used to.

This Time, Facebook Really Might Be Fucked - Gizmodo
I think, at least in Europe (which still includes the UK) they may find themselves subject to a much tighter regulatory regime -- there is talk about requiring them to default users' privacy settings to maximum privacy, for example, and then let users choose what to reveal about themselves and to whom.
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Old 03-19-2018, 03:55 PM   #21 (permalink)
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What I hate about FB is that we are slowly becoming non-persons in the eyes of employers and others. If you don't have a FB page, it can be a hassle in some circumstances. So, I'm glad this is happening. F*** them.
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Old 03-19-2018, 04:14 PM   #22 (permalink)
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Honestly. The main reason I don't get rid of Facebook is I have my name as my vanity URL.

Like just my name, not NAME5567.

Not my SL name.

I would never be able to get it back if FB "got better".

Kind of the same with Twitter.
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Old 03-19-2018, 05:42 PM   #23 (permalink)
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Old 03-19-2018, 05:47 PM   #24 (permalink)
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Old 03-19-2018, 05:50 PM   #25 (permalink)
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https://www.nytimes.com/2018/03/19/t...ex-stamos.html

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Facebook’s chief information security officer, Alex Stamos, will leave the company after internal disagreements over how the social network should deal with its role in spreading disinformation, according to current and former employees briefed on the matter.

Mr. Stamos had been a strong advocate inside the company for investigating and disclosing Russian activity on Facebook, often to the consternation of other top executives, including Sheryl Sandberg, the social network’s chief operating officer, according to the current and former employees, who asked not to be identified discussing internal matters.
I'm seeing claims on Reddit that Facebook employees are at the CA offices now, having been let in by CA. I'm sure they're just popping round for a nice cup of tea.
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