Cambridge Analytica: From election manipulation to murdering babies

Cambridge Analytica: From election manipulation to murdering babies


Well, OK, the murdering of babies is taking things a bit far but this company is getting some seriously bad press at the moment.

We’ve touched on the things they do on this site in Trump, Brexit, Labour the Tory threads so I thought the company and perhaps more generally the approach of online influence deserved its own thread.

At the heart of the current media storm is whether CA gained access to Facebook data that they shouldn’t.

This appears to be the thing that has crossed a line and for which Facebook and the UK government are attempting to gain access to CA to inspect their data.

What doesn’t seem to cross a line, at least legally, is that they harvest data, profile us psychologically and then, if we are in some political or corporate entity’s target market, they set about influencing us through highly targetted online advertising that plays on our hopes but especially our fears.

What isn’t in doubt is that given access to Facebook data and Facebook as an advertising platform, CA do appear able to impact global events - and all of this from a UK company with about 200 employees.

So, is Cambridge Analytica doing anything wrong?


This is C4’s exposé from last night.

It’s very interesting and seems to ask serious questions about CA’s leadership.


An interview here with a CA whistleblower.


On one level I actually feel “sorry” for CA.

Having been in IT for ages and following all the new funky trends, I found myself a year back in a company that has a “solution” that will “gather data” and the tech has been created to make it much easier to analyze that data and target the right marketing to the right people.

Now part of the actual use of the software is that any individual has to physically press an ACCEPT button (as you do on Facebook).

A massive industry has grown up and will expand around this technology. Equally there is nothing “sinister” about how that data is then used…

For example I REALLY do not want my FB feed full of adverts to buy property here in Dubai so actually I am much happier that they use my data to supply shit that is at least marginally interesting (cheap flights for example)

So CA created an absolute game changing set of tools. They could and should have become one of the fastest growing companies in the world. They also grew out of our University system.

And now the backlash.

The problem was not the tech it was as ALWAYS, the “Ruling Elite” deciding that morals do not apply to them in their continued pursuit of “the Gravy Train”

As Wylie has stated in his expose in the Guardian (part of the team that broke this story), he feels mortified that the tools became “corrupted” in such a way.

People MUST go to jail here. The current Data Protection laws will not help a lot. IF this had occurred after 25th May, Facebook could have been brought to their knees with fines under GDPR. They will still be hurt by this.

Which IS a huge shame, a nascent industry that already employs many thousands of people and has many more at Uni studying this will be damaged.

Once again Corporate Greed, a lack of moral standards by the elite will hurt.

Me? I KNOW FB uses my data. Equally I KNOW everything I ever type is read. So it has NEVER been rocket science to use the web “carefully”

The people ranting the most about this on Social Media today are to be honest, the types that the world would be better off by having them nowhere NEAR Social Media.


FB had a Tech Team on site at CA last night. Obviouly they were “checking compliance” and in no way “covering anything up” equally interesting that the UK Authorities issued them a cease and desist order.

(We’ve all seen that movie)


There is no such thing.

I watched someone hack an NSA Laptop in 20 seconds at a Cyber Crime Conference. As a proof of concept, the next day they showed how they could hack the command centre of an Aircraft Carrier. So, don’t lose sleep about CA possibly having your data :lou_sunglasses:


They sound rattled to me


FYI, this is what Mr Murthy is referring to.



It’s becoming a thing… :lou_eyes_to_sky:


Carole Cadwalladr’s twitter feed is full of interesting information on this. She’s been investigating CA for a few years now and provided a fairly decent piece in the guardian a few months ago with links to Trump, Brexit, Van Dijk :lou_lol:, etc.


Delivered with sociopathic levels of self-unawareness and without any hint of irony…

“They’re going to embarrass us by presenting a mischaracterisation of the facts”

…from a man who has crowned modern-day kings using a mischaracterisation of the facts.


A few things have surprised me about this story.

Firstly, if CA are so good at what they do for political parties, and they certainly appear to be, then surely they’re contracted to one or all of our major parties?

Secondly, if this is the case then surely the government would drag it’s heels investigating this?

What’s that?

Oh, I see.


A good analysis and I too am conflicted on CA.

Data mining isn’t illegal and certainly isn’t that difficult (technically). The issue that appears to have crossed a line is with CA’s acquisition of the seed profiles from Facebook that were then used to develop a FOAF ontology (friend of a friend).

The machine learning element of this isn’t that tricky either.

Regular viewers of this site and TSW will remember that I developed some weird NLP (Natural Language Processing) analysis stuff (Wordles, and sentiment analysis) for Saints’ posters about 4 years ago.

In a previous life, I also developed a software tool that would analyse the marketing materials of high-tech software vendors and profile and categorise them as to how they took their products to market.

Managing the large volumes of data isn’t that tricky anymore given developments in Big Data tools.

Our very own Optimus Trousers makes use of most of these techniques to spew (too much - some say) news into our weekly thread.

What Cambridge Analytica did, and should be given huge technical credit for, is the psychographic segmentation. That is really smart stuff.

Understanding how our responses to a few very targeted questions can reveal everything about how we can be influenced is technically very clever.

They developed something that could tap into our hopes and fears and aggressively target those dreams or nightmares to change or influence our political position.

It’s difficult to say this, but I suspect that process isn’t wrong.

Is it?

Isn’t this what political organisations and corporations have tried to do for years through advertising and buying media barons’ backing?

It’s just being done now on a granular level that hasn’t been seen before. CA has taken the incredibly inefficient broadcast political messaging process and given us hyper-efficient, personalised individual messaging designed to influence a single person’s view.

Their crime (allegedly) seems to have been ‘stealing’ the seed data, so whilst I don’t think their business model is illegal, it certainly seems morally questionable.


Good stuff Bletch.

Like many “Disaster Management” issues think that CA have been woefully advised, and will now be thrown to the dogs.

Meanwhile, am I the only one who imagines Zuckerberg wiping his arse with this bit of attention seeking bollocks?

So modern democracy (ie the elite) will determine major issues of the day by showing how heroic they are on Twitter :lou_facepalm_2:


You are probably right, but I do hoppe this dents his presidential ambitions.

The idea of him in power is equally as, if not more so, terrifying than the Tango-Pussy-Grabber-in-Chief



Another opportunity for Politicians to try and appear ruthless and powerful and serious and impactful.

They acheive fuck all except grab a couple headlines for these arseholes


I’m looking forward to seeing how a lot of companies who rely on individuals personal information will be managing GDPR.

It’s causing my company, clients and service providers a headache - with very significant fines potentially for those who fuck up


Where I work managers don’t seem to be aware of this at all. I keep mentioning it and getting blank looks. Where I used to work they are already compliant.


But your employers keep loads of personal data don’t they?

Would recommend that you ask what you need to do to ensure you are able to work compliantly in the GDPR environment - if they say “as you were” then I’d suggest it’s probably best to move on…


Yep. I keep saying that we cannot just create files on people without consent. People seem to think because some of the work is safeguarding we can. But a lot of our work isn’t and we work with consent.


US Government finally rolling into action. Will mean legislation on Tech firms won’t be far behind…

GDPR is massive and applies to ANY business ANYWHERE on the planet holding data on EU Citizens.

EU companies are behind the curve but then down here it is worse. Passport copies are used for everything here and stored in laptops or filing cabinets. The planet isn’t ready for it yet but people like United Delta Emirates or Qatar Airways could be sunk by it let alone all those online betting companies that sponsor football teams

Meanwhile, opened FB this morning to see some pics of Eric skiing and then mainly Tumbleweed…