back to article Cambridge Analytica 'privatised colonising operation', not a 'legitimate business', says whistleblower

Working for Cambridge Analytica "felt very much like a privatised colonising operation," the former staffer at the centre of the scandal around Facebook data slurps and Vote Leave's alleged overspend has said. Speaking to MPs today, Chris Wylie, the pink-haired whistleblower with a knack for flamboyant and quotable phrases, …

  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    The BBC

    ... continues to be very, very quiet on this.

    It's a can of worms waited to be inspected - Cambridge Analytica throws into doubt the whole validity of the Brexit vote, not to mention other ballots outside of the UK.

    1. Tom 64
      Windows

      Re: validity of the Brexit vote

      Are referenda covered by the same laws as elections?

      I can't imagine Theresa May backing off brexit now either way, she doesn't want to be seen as weaker than Thatcher.

      Breaking out some popcorn, this will get messy.

      1. Voland's right hand Silver badge

        Re: validity of the Brexit vote

        Are referenda covered by the same laws as elections?

        As far as election fraud - yes. AFAIK so far campaign fraud has been used to invalidate elections up to mayor and councillor level. There was a London borough which had its mayor removed a couple of years back for that (forgot which one).

        I am not aware of a single instance of parliamentary election (as the closest equivalent to a referendum) to be invalidated as a result of campaign fraud.

      2. Loyal Commenter Silver badge

        Re: validity of the Brexit vote

        Are referenda covered by the same laws as elections?

        That's beside the point; the referendum was explicitly advisory, so May was not bound in any way to act on the results. Basically, the decision to leave the EU was hers, and not the British people's. Her decision was based on an understanding that the British people did want to leave, but not contingent upon it, so even if the referendum was shown to be completely rigged, she'd still be head-down charging forward at the brick wall.

        1. John Watts

          Re: validity of the Brexit vote

          >Her decision was based on an understanding that the British people did want to leave,

          No, it was based on the understanding that her party would fracture and her majority would migrate to UKIP.

          The UK is leaving the EU because of the Conservative Party's internal problems and has nothing to do with "the will of the people". Twenty-odd arseholes in gray suits threatened to throw their toys out of their collective pram and shafted an entire country. Surely that had to be the opposite of democracy regardless of your desired result.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: validity of the Brexit vote

            >The UK is leaving the EU because of the Conservative Party's internal problems and has nothing to do with "the will of the people".

            What nonsense. The UK is leaving the EU to ensure that Paul Dacre's non-dom status and wealth are preserved and the plebs do what they're told.

        2. Tom 64

          Re: validity of the Brexit vote

          > "she'd still be head-down charging forward at the brick wall."

          Good point.

      3. Mage Silver badge
        Coffee/keyboard

        Re: validity of the Brexit vote

        It was only "advisory" not "mandatory", so less rigorous standards are allowed!

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: The BBC

      The BBC... continues to be very, very quiet on this.

      Yes, to the extent of making it the lead story on the BBC News site through most of Tuesday, and one of the lead stories on their TV and radio news programmes. Talk about a cover-up...

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: The BBC

        OTOH, did anyone say anything about Telford?

        1. Dave 126 Silver badge

          Re: The BBC

          Maybe AC only listens to Newsbeat on Radio 1? There's plenty about it on Radio 4.

          1. K Silver badge

            Re: The BBC

            @Dave 126 - "plenty about it on Radio 4."

            I often think this.. but afraid to admit I'm a closet Radio 4 listener.. as my wife says, "Isn't that a station for old people?".. Unfortunately I leave evidence (forgetting to switch stations before getting out of the car!).

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: The BBC

              Be brave and come out of the closet. I think the average listener age can be lowered if more of us admitted our vice.

              1. katrinab Silver badge

                Re: The BBC

                "Be brave and come out of the closet. I think the average listener age can be lowered if more of us admitted our vice."

                From a presumably very elderly anonymous coward.

                I'm pretty sure I'm not the youngest person on here, I'm old enough to remember when MS DOS was first released; and I don't even own a radio set.

            2. macjules Silver badge

              Re: The BBC

              Isn't that a station for old people?

              My children say that about the entire BBC, including BBC Radio 1 ("isn't that a radio station for geriatric paedophiles?")

            3. David 18

              Re: The BBC

              @K

              "I often think this.. but afraid to admit I'm a closet Radio 4 listener.. as my wife says, "Isn't that a station for old people?".. Unfortunately I leave evidence (forgetting to switch stations before getting out of the car!)."

              Sorry had to downvote, just for your wife's comment, please pass it on.

              Please also let her know that no, it's not for "old" people, it's for intelligent, articulate people of any age who are interested in a wide variety of interesting topics, who wish to expand their knowledge and experience. it is the last bastion of truly balanced and challenging debate you are likely to find on any broadcast medium anywhere in the world.

              I would happily continue to pay my TV licence fee purely to keep Radio 4 going in its current state.

              It is not for vapid, boring, people interested only in fashion and celebrity who just want to absorb and consume. (Not casting aspersions on your wife by the way, get her try it, she might like it. Tell her not to worry what other people think.)

              1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge
                Thumb Up

                Re: The BBC

                BBC Radio 4, home to the new HHGTTG Hexagonal Phase.

      2. wolfetone Silver badge

        Re: The BBC

        "The BBC... continues to be very, very quiet on this.

        Yes, to the extent of making it the lead story on the BBC News site through most of Tuesday, and one of the lead stories on their TV and radio news programmes. Talk about a cover-up..."

        For balance, here is today's Most Read on the BBC News website, as of 8:55am 28th March 2018.

        1. Shoppers to pay plastic bottle deposit

        2. 'Enormous' wildcat found in Aberdeenshire

        3. Megabus ads promising £1 seats are banned

        4. 5 songs you didn't know were about God

        5. Teen hits lottery jackpot on 18th birthday

        6. Walmart shelves 'hyper-sexualised' Cosmo

        7. Kim was in Bejing, China and NK confirm

        8. Plastics purge and firefighters 'sorry'

        9. In pictures: Brief encounters through the lens

        10. Fans to say farewell at Ken Dodd funeral

        A quick browse on the BBC News home page also reveals that there are a number articles stretching back 17+ hours, but none are to do with Cambridge Analytica, Facebook, or the investigation. Reporting a story that Zuckerborg has refused to meet MPs isn't the same as comenting on the story and CA's role in the EU referendum.

        The only news organisation covering it in depth, aside from El Reg, is The Guardian. It's been on the top of their website for a fortnight practically.

        So yes. The BBC are deathly quiet about this scandal - which is what it is - and haven't given it enough exposure or comment. I'm not saying why or why not, but it's as plain as the nose on your face that it's been given little to no coverage in the truest sense by the BBC.

        They haven't even commented on how the Tory government outed Mr.Wiley as gay, completely against his will. But they'll report on an owner going to prison for teaching a dog to raise a paw?

        **EDITED at 9:14am, 28th March 2018**

        Just decided to go on to the UK News section of the BBC website. Not a single mention of CA or the inquiry. Plenty about the Queen going to see a boat and an owl attacking a groom.

        The first mention of Brexit being swayed only comes when you visit the Politics section of the BBC News website, half way down (on the mobile version): Claims 'cheating' may have swayed Brexit poll. Published 7 hours ago.

        And that's it. That is your only mention, vauge as it is, about CA, Facebook, Brexit, and the referendum.

        Check it for yourself.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          FAIL

          Re: The BBC

          Most Read TODAY! Not this week, month.

          Try this search to see how much they are "not" covering it.

          cambridge analytica site:bbc.co.uk

          5hrs ago

          http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-43558876

          7hrs ago

          http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-northern-ireland-politics-43562388

          11 hours ago

          http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-43554135

          or how about it on BBC Worldwide?

          http://www.bbc.com/mundo/noticias-internacional-43486272

          1. wolfetone Silver badge

            @Lost all faith

            But that's not what the original poster said. They said that it was covered in depth on their home page. I followed what they did, and reported back what I said.

            And that's before we get on to actual television coverage of the matter.

          2. LewisRage

            Re: BBC

            @Lost all faith...

            "cambridge analytica site:bbc.co.uk"

            This is of course exactly how the majority of internet users go about navigating the BBC news site.

            The fact is that if you go to bbc.co.uk/news right now there is not a single mention of 'Cambridge' 'Analytica' 'Referendum' or 'Wylie' and a single entry for 'Brexit' that has nothing to do with this story. A casual reader wouldn't know a single thing about this story, if they weren't looking for it, after reading the BBC news homepage in it's entirety.

            It was featured fairly prominently yesterday though.

            1. Loyal Commenter Silver badge

              Re: BBC

              The fact is that if you go to bbc.co.uk/news right now there is not a single mention of 'Cambridge' 'Analytica' 'Referendum' or 'Wylie' and a single entry for 'Brexit' that has nothing to do with this story.

              It's a rolling news feed. There's nothing on the landing page of the gruaniad, or even google news about it at the moment either. It's a conspiracy I tells ya!

              1. wolfetone Silver badge

                Re: BBC

                "It's a rolling news feed. There's nothing on the landing page of the gruaniad, or even google news about it at the moment either. It's a conspiracy I tells ya!"

                I think you're being pedantic. It's quite clearly on the front page.

        2. graeme leggett

          Re: The BBC

          I did

          the timestamp "9 hours ago"

          'Cheating may have swayed Brexit poll - Christopher Wylie'

          http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-43558876

          1. wolfetone Silver badge

            Re: The BBC

            "I did

            the timestamp "9 hours ago"

            'Cheating may have swayed Brexit poll - Christopher Wylie'

            http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-43558876"

            That's the same one I found, buried in the Politics section of the News website. Hardly the home page.

        3. P. Lee Silver badge

          Re: The BBC

          >Claims 'cheating' may have swayed Brexit poll.

          Persuading people of a political view is not "cheating" its "winning."

          Persuading people of a political view does not invalidate an election.

          If attempted political persuasion is illegal, the BBC should be fined into oblivion. They have certainly made it their business.

          The BBC have worked hard to lose my interest. I used to be a staunch advocate for them - I thought it useful to have a well-funded, reasonably-independent-of-government, non-commercial news organisation. Now their LGBT/race/feminist/pro-anything-foreign/anti-everything-traditionally-English activism coverage is just plain tedious and I no longer visit them. Too many times I thought there was a news story, but no, it was just propaganda. I don't even listen to the Friday Night Funnies any more. Yes Trump is an obnoxious idiot, but virtue-signalling isn't the essence of comedy. Half an hour of that is just boringly self-righteous. Why can't they just replay "Hancock's Half Hour"? I'd love them to dig up the show they did (in the 80's?) where they translated Macbeth into "Beano" style audio. "Cabin Pressure" was fantastic. Where are the people like Adam Curtis? I don't need to agree with everything said, but I'd like to perceive that some analytical thought has been applied.

          1. Professor Clifton Shallot

            Re: The BBC

            >>Claims 'cheating' may have swayed Brexit poll.

            >Persuading people of a political view is not "cheating" its "winning."

            Persuading people using carefully constructed and focused lies that opponents have no opportunity to counter might be considered cheating, I suppose.

            Regardless, the 'cheating' in this case would be the breaking of the spending limits if that's what has happened.

            1. P. Lee Silver badge

              Re: The BBC

              >Regardless, the 'cheating' in this case would be the breaking of the spending limits if that's what has happened.

              I totally agree. But that isn't the focus or tone of all these articles. The narrative is all about an evil organisation which used some mind-control magic to change people's votes. There is obviously no way that people not under an evil magical influence would have voted "leave".

              I'm not sure if those behind these stories think they are being subtle in arguing that the election is invalid and the result ignored.

              The tone of the articles are so obviously partisan framing all this as both bad and exceptional. This kind of targetting goes on every day. Buy a flight to Italy, you'll get offers for Italian car-rentals. This is not an aberration, this is what facebook and google do for a living. This is exactly what Obama did and was praised for when he won his elections by the same newspapers who denounced both Brexit and Trump's election when they did exactly the same thing.

              Don't get me wrong, I find it all abhorrent, but I take personal responsibility for it by not blabbing about my life on facebook. Even if they get a profile on me from those around me, I'm not seeing their adverts. If you don't like the power these organisations have, stop giving them free content and consuming their advertising. I'm not going to cry if facebook and Tumblr go under. Do you think Facebook or its clients (the ones who actually pay them for stuff) or the government want it to go away, or is it just too useful? Building profiles and micro-targeting is what the Cloud does. Don't come crying because you think it was used for evil. If you want it to go away, you have to kill the capability.

              This level of creepiness is not just for social media any more. I see MS are banning profanity in O365 documents. Think about what that means. Are your documents "safe" in the cloud? Encrypted?

              Nuke it from orbit, its the only way to be sure. We need new protocols to provide distributed authentication, presence indicators and RSS feeds so that we can share information with our friends and friends alone, without giving data to large organisations. Large organisations tend to evil. This is because as they grow, individuals (customers, voters, providers) become relatively less important. Larger organisations trample on those they disagree with. That may not matter to you while you are in power or in the majority. Welcome to the Minority.

              Notice how Scottish independence went back on the agenda after the Brexit vote? That would be devolution of power to provide self-determination. Scotland splitting from the UK, just as the UK split from Europe. It is interesting how people suddenly want that ability despite being pro-EU. It is pretty similar, except of course the EU is not supposed to be a nation.

          2. Professor Clifton Shallot

            Re: The BBC

            >Why can't they just replay "Hancock's Half Hour"?

            They do, on [url=https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b009t2ld/episodes/player]Radio 4 Extra[/url].

            And he's still a man, and none of the rest of the cast is non-white or gay for any reason other than comic effect.

            Same station for 'Hello Cheeky', 'Round the Horn', 'The Navy Lark', 'I'm Sorry, I'll read That Again', 'The Men From The Ministry', and many other comedies untainted by the passage of time.

            If you hanker for a world where politeness was strictly observed but went no further than tipping your hat to the secretary before you pinched her bum then the BBC still caters for you.

          3. Paul 195

            Re: The BBC

            > Persuading people of a political view is not "cheating" its "winning."

            > Persuading people of a political view does not invalidate an election.

            There are ways of persuading that are not cheating under our rules, and there are ways of persuading that are. If it turns out that the different Leave campaigns were co-ordinating their activity, and had a joint spend over the limits set by the electoral commission, that is not only cheating, it is also against the law. If this turns out to be the case, there is a very strong argument that the referendum result is not valid and should be set aside. Then whatever the illiberal elite of the Daily Mail, Express and Telegraph claim, the result cannot be said to be the "will of the people", because the people were not involved in a fair contest.

            1. The Nazz Silver badge

              Re: The BBC

              What a firkin palaver.

              "Cheating."

              Just as Tony Blair did when he blatantly lied to the whole country about Iraq's (non-existent) weapons of mass destruction. And started what many, including experts, deem to be an illegal war.

              Just as Nick Clegg, the Liberal Democrat leader did when he and his party stood on a principle of no higher education fees, then as soon as his chance of personal glory appeared, he sold his party and principles down the river for a share of power. With subsequent election results through the floor.

              Just as the whole load of bollocks sprouted by the London 2012 Olympics, a world class legacy left in London, to benefit the whole of the UK ( ha ha fucking ha) including a world class athletics facility barely used once a year, costing as near as dammit a £bn, now sublet to a greedy grasping football club at a loss of some £20m a year.

              Just as a VP of the International Athletics body lied to a parliamentary body about his (alleged) lack of knowledge about corruption of that body of which he had been a VP for several years. Not to mention Eugene Oregon simply being GIVEN future games despite other potential candidates.

              So what, someone tried to influence voters to leave the EU?

              I doubt many actually know who voted Leave and why. From a close group of people i know, 20 or so, family, friends and colleagues who openly state they voted Leave, mostly educated to degree level and beyond, many of them have waited a long time, 20 years or more for that vote.

              And in brutal reality, it is not the Leave voters who are responsible for having sold out any younger generations futures. That die was cast some while ago.

              YMMV.

        4. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: The BBC

          Yes, but what happened to the wildcat in Aberdeenshire?

        5. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge

          Re: The BBC

          On the News page on the Beeb's website, at the top is a story about Facebook changing their privacy policy. Which references the whole Cambridge Analytica brouhaha. And has further links. So it is mentioned. I also saw the pink haired chap on Newsnight last night, so again they do cover it. Haven't heard seen any radio or telly bulletins in the last couple of days though, so can't speak for that.

          I suspect that most people won't have picked up on it yet, other than maybe the implications for Facebook privacy. Because so far it's untested allegations. And most people tend to ignore most political stories, as a general rule. Whereas the Facebook data-leakage story is real and admitted, and affects their data.

          This is the kind of story that rumbles on for months before it becomes big news. The leave press may well mostly ignore it and the Guardian run two stories a day on why Brexit is bad / wrong / evil and the referendum should be ignored, overturned or re-run. So this will probably just look like more of that for a bit to the non-engaged voter. It's amazing how litttle single news stories move the polls, and even when one does, they tend to return to where they were before after a week or two.

      3. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        @Credas

        See wolfetone's later post (above). You must be living in another Universe.

        Either that or the BBC are targetting users' browser results on a per-IP address basis.

    3. VinceH Silver badge

      Re: The BBC

      "... continues to be very, very quiet on this."

      Far worse, in my opinion, is the number of our representatives who were present in the House yesterday to participate in a debate on the matter.

    4. JQW

      Re: The BBC

      A testimony before a Parliamentary committee is not the same as an appearance in court - there could be legal ramifications for a broadcaster covering it if the details later turn out to not be true.

      This is the same reason why the BBC and other broadcasters never cover major allegations made on the front page of national newspapers before the accused has had a chance to reply.

    5. TheVogon Silver badge

      Re: The BBC

      A Mac Donalds somewhere is missing it's clown.

    6. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

      Re: The BBC

      "... continues to be very, very quiet on this."

      You seem to be seeing a different BBC to me. They've reported quite widely on this subject.

  2. b0llchit
    Devil

    Other uses

    So, I guess that GCHQ is quite disappointed that people are leaving the gift that has been giving so much. Ah well, there is always MySpace...

    1. macjules Silver badge

      Re: Other uses

      there is always MySpace

      I just bet that Time, Inc. is thanking God that they bought MySpace.

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    My mum always told me never trust someone with pink hair. This bribing of the police has me intrigued and leaves too many obvious questions that I'm surprised weren't asked, how did the police know? When did it happen? Where did it happen? Why did they waste money bribing the police rather than putting the do not disturb sign on the door?

    If all of this is true then expect a strange accident in the news in the coming weeks.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Fake News? What the Foook News!

      If all of this is true then expect a strange accident in the news in the coming weeks.

      Yes, with a "100% RARE nerve agent that may not even exist but is OBVIOUSLY from a soviet operation shut down in the 90s".

      This whole thing sounds too gross. Like another reality-TV show made by well-remunerated "event managers".

      At least the nose ring and hipster T-Shirt are gone.

    2. Voland's right hand Silver badge

      If all of this is true then expect a strange accident in the news in the coming weeks.

      You mean like the one that happened to his predecessor?

      You touch something like your phone and they find you dead in your hotel room a few hours later. With no traces and nobody being able to explain the cause of death (at least in a 3rd world country like Nigeria).

      That does remind me of something... Wonder what it is...

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Really?

    I mean I don’t support Brexit or Trump, but this is starting to sound like Flat Earth literature.

    There is no way an advertising agency can have that much of an effect on anything. This reminds me of the “subliminal advertising” nonsense in the 60s.

    Psychology is a field only a little better than homeopathy. It doesn’t work as well as these guys want you to think.

    1. EricM

      Re: Really?

      There is no way an advertising agency can have that much of an effect on anything. This reminds me of the “subliminal advertising” nonsense in the 60s.

      Psychology is a field only a little better than homeopathy. It doesn’t work as well as these guys want you to think.

      Somewhat true for any given individual as far as psychological cause and effect are not exact science and not 100% predictable.

      However, exposing large parts of the general population to psychological manipulation of which they are unaware might indeed have measurable effects.

      Of course one will not be able to change the outcome of an election from 20/80 to 80/20.

      But neither of the elections/referendums in question was that clear.

      Influencing just 5% of the voters to change their mind can modify an election result by 20% when voter turnout is 50%.

      And targeted engagement of single voters based on profiling data might even have better success rates than 5%.

      1. Voland's right hand Silver badge

        Re: Really?

        Influencing just 5% of the voters to change their mind can modify an election result by 20% when voter turnout is 50%

        The primary target of f***book campaigning is NOT the influencing of the voters. Their minds are already pre-set onto a set of rails and they nicely glide on that never seeing any content they do not really like.

        What the like of SCL, etc do is to influence the turnout. The changes in turnout in some demographics categories in the USA was more than 4 times. From 17% to 80%. Similarly, there were negative changes in other demographics (albeit nowhere near as drastic as the increase in the "secondary school educated white male" category - that is the 80% number).

        That is more than good enough to win elections.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Really?

          “That is more than good enough to win elections”

          Even if that were true (which I doubt) it assumes that only one side pays Advertising companies. Just accept a loss as an inability to do “something” - even if that something is to pay the wrong ad men.

          1. Voland's right hand Silver badge

            Re: Really?

            Just accept a loss as an inability to do “something” - even if that something is to pay the wrong ad men.

            Oh definitely. If it is internal - yes. That is 100% the case.

            The issue is that if you do that EXTERNALLY with the success rate SCL/CA has demonstrated you destabilize the country. Nearly every one of their contracts ended up with a civil unrest, attempted military coup or something along those lines shortly thereafter. In fact, you can guess where they have been by that sequence going back to the pre-facebook days of 1993 when SCL was freshly created to satisfy the NATO colonisation need in Eastern Europe and beyond.

            As some of those countries now discover that they have been taken for a ride (regardless of the red-lidded crates with the docs being removed) there will be a blowback. There will also be a very happy Vladimir Vladimirovich. While we won in the short term, by pushing for short term gains we actually played in his favour long term. Something we do repeatedly - same as giving him extra 7% in the most recent election due to the way we played the Salisbury cards (and continuing to give him more).

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: Really?

              “success rate SCL/CA has demonstrated”

              Are you nuts? The company has proven nothing other than to further show how arrogant the establishment are.

              Yeah - We only lost because stupid sheeple voted the way the illuminati on Facebook told them to.

              Has the world forgotten the phrase “lose gracefully”?

              1. Voland's right hand Silver badge

                Re: Really?

                Are you nuts? The company has proven nothing other than to further show how arrogant the establishment are.

                No I am not. I know the national psychology of some of the subjects of this "benign influence" as I have travelled extensively there and lived in some of the places.

                Were they taken for a ride or not is IRRELEVANT. The losers will decide that they WERE once the news break out. Sure that mean nothing in a passive aggressive traditional everyone stabs everyone in the back with a 9 inch blade place. Just have a look at how peacefully we are debating the referendum being rigged and how many MPs are paying attention

                In some other places... A Monte-Negrin or Albanian fuse length is measured in mm if not micrometers. So is their tolerance to being taken for a ride. Especially by foreigners and especially by the British. The discussion on this in Bulgaria already went into Godwin Law (both 1.0 and 2.0), archive footage of the Allies bombing Sofia and a rather riotous and scandalous discussion on national television on why the fighter pilots which flew against the allies do not have a monument. From a staunch NATO ally to that in one day.

                All in all I see another Belaz sized order of popcorn being enqueued.

          2. VinceH Silver badge

            Re: Really?

            " it assumes that only one side pays Advertising companies."

            Which is why there are spending limits, and there is an issue that one of the leave groups allegedly exceeded that limit by funnelling funds through another supposedly independent one.

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Really?

          Imagine if they gave the vote to 16 year olds.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Really?

            Imagine if they gave the vote to 16 year olds.

            Imagine if they gave the vote to 10 year olds. Or 5 year olds.

            Actually, a goverment elected by 5 year olds (instead of being composed of 5 year olds) might at least make life more fun.

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: Really?

              “Actually, a goverment elected by 5 year olds (instead of being composed of 5 year olds) might at least make life more fun.”

              ...and the prophecy is complete. I lost... waa! I want my mummy! Evil conspiracy people made people I don’t like win. Let’s have a government investigation to “prove” that I should have won...

            2. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: a goverment elected by 5 year olds

              Excellent idea it already looks like it's run by five year olds anyway.

              I for one welcome Prime Minister Tumble, I think he could bring something special to the job.

              1. Voland's right hand Silver badge

                Re: a goverment elected by 5 year olds

                I for one welcome Prime Minister Tumble, I think he could bring something special to the job.

                Wait, I have not watched the news today. Are you trying to tell me that Boris is a prime minister already?

              2. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge
                Happy

                Re: a goverment elected by 5 year olds

                If we're going to have a government elected by 5 year-olds, does this mean I'll finally get my free owl?

                Curse you Miliband for losing that election!

                1. Anonymous Coward
                  Anonymous Coward

                  Re: a goverment elected by 5 year olds

                  The first political party to offer free owls will win hands down. They would be a hoot.

            3. Spanners Silver badge
              Pint

              Re: Really?

              Imagine if they gave the vote to 16 year olds.

              Imagine if they gave the vote to 10 year olds. Or 5 year olds.

              Imagine how it would have turned out if they had taken away the vote for 80+ year olds!

              Better still, lets keep the rules on this the same.

      2. The Nazz Silver badge

        Re: Really?

        I would wager a £ to a p, $ to the cent that the recent behaviour of the like of Blair, Mandelson, Clegg Cameron, even Hague, had far more influence of the voter turnout and decision than did any campaign run via Facebook et al.

        ffs, even that subset of voters that Gordon Brown tried to buy through his fiscal policies throughout 1997-2010 ( with scant success) saw through him and voted Leave in large and clear majority numbers.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Really?

      Lets say you were on the fence with brexit as I'm sure a few people were.

      Then you see the following,

      Turkey joining EU, massive influx of immigrants to the UK.

      Women raped in Stockholm by immigrants who are running wild.

      Europeans having children in the UK then claiming child benefit in their own country and there is nothing the UK government can do about it.

      £350 million pound a week to the EU which we could be put into our NHS.

      I cannot vouch for the accuracy of any of these but these are some of the things I saw during the campaigning. Do you not think these could have changed someones mind? Maybe someone that doesn't fact check stories of which there are probably a lot of people. Personally I just ignore crap when it has a clear agenda.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Really?

        How about a Government "information leaftlet" deliverd to every housedhold just before the start of the campaign saying remain?

      2. Phil O'Sophical Silver badge

        Re: Really?

        Do you not think these could have changed someones mind?

        Of course, but so could the similar stories pushing the other way, the so-called "Project fear"

        "economy would drop into a recession"

        "unemployment increase of 500,000"

        "GDP would drop 3.6%"

        "No more Spanish holidays"

        "Expats would be thrown out"

        etc.

        Both sides used propaganda to push their agenda, and I doubt if the effects will be easy to measure, or if the lies on one side were more believed than those on the other.

        Personally I just ignore crap when it has a clear agenda.

        Seems like a sound philosophy to me.

        1. jonfr

          Re: Really?

          The fact is that people from UK are going to need visa and all types of permit after UK leaves the EU. How much the gdp drops depends on how well UK economy is managed after UK leaves the EU.

          On this map UK is going to turn into one of the grey countries after it leaves the EU.

          https://ec.europa.eu/home-affairs/what-we-do/policies/borders-and-visas/visa-policy/schengen_visa_en

          1. Phil O'Sophical Silver badge

            Re: Really?

            The fact is that people from UK are going to need visa and all types of permit after UK leaves the EU.<

            a) The UK isn't in the Schengen area today anyway, so nothing changes there.

            b) The future plans for the Schengen visa are for it to be more like a US ESTA or Canadian ETA, an electronic authorization that you get online. Even places like India have dropped physical tourist visas stamped in your passport now, and are moving to electronic ones.

            1. Voland's right hand Silver badge

              Re: Really?

              a) The UK isn't in the Schengen area today anyway, so nothing changes there.

              Not quite.

              You quite clearly have not had to stand for two hours in a busy European airport in the same queue with Chinese tourists. I have (once upon a time when I did not have a selection of Eu passports). If you want the full taste of the experience, I suggest you peruse the "others" queue at Heathrow next time. You will enjoy it - it is a highly educational experience.

              The future of the Shengen visa will not alter the situation with there being a Eu queue (or nearly no queue) and a 2h queue for 3rd world tourists and (after 19th of March) Brits. Eu citizens from outside the Shengen area will never need a Shengen visa. It is fundamental to the Eu charter. So the Eu dedicated queue will disappear only once the entire Eu+EEA+Swiss is Shengen (if that ever happens). One country less to go through it will only make it faster (very nice).

              Personally, I will simply take one of my "spare" passports out and sail through the Eu queue. Bon Voyageeee... and enjoy the 2 mile long 3rd world line while proudly holding a Blue Passport printed in France (Sorry cannot convey the Bugs Bunny accent in an el reg post).

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Really?

      You would say that, wouldn't you?

    4. Loyal Commenter Silver badge

      Re: Really?

      Psychology is a field only a little better than homeopathy. It doesn’t work as well as these guys want you to think.

      And this is why we don't have ubiquitous advertising all around us, since it obviously doesn't work.

      Oh, wait...

    5. Professor Clifton Shallot

      Re: Really?

      >There is no way an advertising agency can have that much of an effect on anything.

      Then why pay such a large proportion of a limited budget (well, supposedly limited) to a company doing this?

      1. Voland's right hand Silver badge

        Re: Really?

        Then why pay such a large proportion of a limited budget (well, supposedly limited) to a company doing this?

        Because, funnily enough from a psychological viewpoint most of the population values their voice in an election less than the contents of their wallet.

        It takes MUCH MORE WORK to convince us to buy a new car than to elect a new Idiot. Especially the hair disorganized versions.

    6. NXM

      subliminal advertising

      I'm certain they're putting blipverts on, but somehow they never appear when I watch it again on catchup. The fiends.

    7. Michael Wojcik Silver badge

      Re: Really?

      Psychology is a field only a little better than homeopathy. It doesn’t work as well as these guys want you to think.

      The Dunning-Kruger is strong with this one.

      AC might also want to read Holiday. While it's difficult to influence a given individual in a specific way,1 sentiment manipulation in populations is well understood and a large and highly effective business.

      1Except by employing intrusive technology, such as psychoactive pharmaceuticals or other brain-manipulating mechanisms in concert with appropriate stimuli. That sort of thing seems to work just fine. Descartes' Evil Genius is here; he just doesn't scale.

  5. Voland's right hand Silver badge

    Working for Cambridge Analytica "felt very much like a privatised colonising operation

    Why did he expect it to be any different. That was SCL's original remit in 1993 when it was founded. Though to be honest, it was supposed to be the executor of NATO colonisation and expansion effort.

    Down the Monte Negrin throat, Down the Macedonian throat, Down the Albanian throat, Down the Georgian throat (*)... It did that pretty well - the rigging of the recent Monte Negrin elections and the resulting joining of the country to NATO despite the public opinion being nearly 60% against that was a work of art.

    By the way - I bet this was what was in some of the red-lidded crates taken out of that building. It is not a contract mentioned so far, but it carried all the tell tale marks and fingerprints including the high-precision f***book campaign.

    So as a weapon it is proven, does the job and it has seen extensive use. However, privatising a weapon like that is on par with running a private business selling chemical weapons to the mob and Islamic terrorists. Similar endgame destructive potential - as the Russians are now learning the hard way.

    There is shit that simply should never be run private or as a side business.

    (*)Ridiculously counterproductive as an idea. You do not want unwilling or part-willing participants which can block the invocation of article 5 which is the sole reason of NATO existence.

  6. Scott Broukell

    Cambridge Anal Tickler

    Oh! you know you shouldn't, but at the same time oh! you know you are going to like it, all that lovely data. All that lovely data mined from the dark depths of the connected world can be yours to use for newthink democratic services or pretty much anything else you can think of!. They take it up the arse and you get the tickles in return, no brainer, $ooo tempting!

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Cambridge Anal Tickler

      part of the COLONising operation?

      1. Scott Broukell

        Re: Cambridge Anal Tickler

        @AC - At a push, I would say that you have probably gone to far with that now!

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      All that lovely data mined from the ???dark??? depths of the connected world.

      The Guardian: Are you ready? This is all the data Facebook and Google have on you

      1. Voland's right hand Silver badge

        Re: All that lovely data mined from the ???dark??? depths of the connected world.

        The Guardian: Are you ready? This is all the data Facebook and Google have on you

        I am. Which is exactly why I have no f***book account, no twitter account, no use of gmail for anything but android phone related stuff and we as a family all use our own mail server. I cannot unfortunately kill all the Android tracking for now, but I at the very least try to make Google's life as difficult as possible.

        That is done on purpose exactly because of this. A large section of the El Reg population is in the same boat.

        It is nice to see the mainline media picking up something we have been droning about for more than a decade while everyone was dismissing us as crazy old computer paranoiacs.

        1. Tim Seventh
          Devil

          Re: All that lovely data mined from the ???dark??? depths of the connected world.

          The Guardian: Are you ready? This is all the data Facebook and Google have on you

          They're keeping all of those data? No problem. Upload a max upload size file (15GB for Google drive), delete it. Then rename that file or find another file, upload it, and delete it again. Repeat until FB and Google server exploded.

        2. SImon Hobson Silver badge

          Re: All that lovely data mined from the ???dark??? depths of the connected world.

          Which is exactly why I have no f***book account, no twitter account

          Which doesn't stop them profiling you, it just means they have to get some of the data from elsewhere - including your "friends" and family. And of course it also means that you can't use any of the controls - yeah great, you can only have any control on your data if you agree to their T&Cs which allow them to do it.

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    'privatised colonising operation'

    WE CAN'T HAVE THAT!!! - says FO

  8. Zog_but_not_the_first Silver badge
    Devil

    Will they get away with it?

    Yep.

    1. JakeMS

      Re: Will they get away with it?

      I'm sure it'll blow over. For them I guess any publicity is good publicity even if it's bad.

      ICO aren't going to find anything, Cambridge University had loads of time to wipe any and all evidence. Largely due to the fact they were told their being investigated before the ICO had a warrant to go in.

      1. Voland's right hand Silver badge

        Re: Will they get away with it?

        Cambridge University

        Cambridge Analytica has even less to do with Cambridge University than your average Cambridge(shire) Village cat.

        Its origins trace to SCL which was originally created as a "psychological warfare" contractor for NATO in 1993. CA is simply the more "digital" part of it. That is by the way a matter of the public record.

        So in fact, it has more shared with DoD, MIX for X values of [5,6], etc than Cambridge University. One of the many reasons for the odious 4 day clown show until ICO finally got on the premises (by that time they should have found only decoys).

        Unfortunately, the people who spun it out forgot that private companies (especially with Mountbattens as directors) need revenue, contracts and ultimately profit. They will hawk for deals and over time sell their wares to anyone and everyone. That is OK if they sell toys. It is not OK if they sell weapons. That is why we have them regulated and contracts run though a permit cycle. The real question is why on earth was CA not regulated from day one as a weapons or "private army" supplier.

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    As he seems to have styled his appearance on an Andy Warhol screen print then is it any surprise that he's now after his 15 minutes of fame?

  10. Aristotles slow and dimwitted horse Silver badge

    Re : "described Wylie as a charlatan"

    I'm interested to see how this will play out, and I'm not sure about the rest of you Reg commentards, but as soon as you resort to name calling in a public forum or debate then you've already kinda' lost the argument.

    1. Sir Runcible Spoon Silver badge
      Black Helicopters

      Re: Re : "described Wylie as a charlatan"

      "as soon as you resort to name calling in a public forum or debate then you've already kinda' lost the argument."

      Or just getting started on the character assassination.

    2. PhilipN Silver badge

      Re: Re : "described Wylie as a charlatan"

      Agreed and this guy is going to have to have balls of steel since the deeper this goes into "the Establishment" the harder time he is going to have and the longer it will last. Just try and imagine where he may look for another job, given his line of business. It is dead easy for a new client to come along, dangling the prospect of a large contract oh and by the way "give your resident piece of shit the heave-ho, yes?"

      If even a part of what he says is substantively correct and he is motivated by ethics I doff my cap to the guy and we should all do the same.

      Sadly I am too long in the tooth not to be sage and cynical** but there is a range of personnel who need to get their comeuppance.

      **For example - Ball tampering? I mean - how stupid : getting caught!!

      1. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge

        Re: Re : "described Wylie as a charlatan"

        I'm not sure we should be digging out our "establishment" conspiracy theories quite yet.

        After all, the establishment was almost totally for remain. So this could be the perfect opportunity to dig out a reason to re-run the referendum. The polls may have moved a bit remain-y too - though who knows what a second campaign would be like. Horrible, I suspect. The first one wasn't exactly high quality...

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Re : "described Wylie as a charlatan"

      The question I have around Wylie is “can he back up his statements with evidence?”

      Some of his statements are clearly speculative - while he may suspect, he doesn’t hold the evidence and doesn’t know where to find it (I.e. Muresas death and the allegation of Police bribery). Hence the charlatan claim.

      Does he have evidence on other subjects that allows any more detailed follow ups?

      I have no doubt that apps were used to slurp Facebook data and capture information about friends etc that may have exceeded Facebooks terms at the time it occurred. I have no doubt that large numbers of people will be shocked about how much Facebook knows about them and how poorly it protected that data. Some of that data may have been used in the Brexit referendum and US elections, but it wasn’t the only game in town and existing voter data sets existed that were likely to be more accurate than the information from Facebook.

      Jumping from Facebook data appropriation to murder, bribery, data that changes elections and fraudulent electoral returns is where it gets harder. If criminal charges are going to be faced, the judicial system is going to require more evidence than one persons testimony.

  11. MonkeyJuice

    Typo!

    "physops" -> "psyops"

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: "physops" -> "psyops"

      Indeed. You be sure leave all the physops to us physicists, or there'll be one hell of a demarkation dispute.

      As for psyops, well, there's a Korean who was best at that...

      1. Michael Wojcik Silver badge

        Re: "physops" -> "psyops"

        You be sure leave all the physops to us physicists

        Except for those who are severely ontologically challenged, I don't think that's physically possible. Personally, I can't get through the day without quite a few physops.

        Hell, without Fermionic exclusion, I'd be crushed, simply crushed. I couldn't take it.

  12. nijam

    > ranged from the believable to the stuff of conspiracy theorists

    Not all that much of a range, these days, it seems.

  13. Flatpackhamster

    Let's just keep this dangerhair talking.

    The more he goes on the more he sounds like a crackpot. What next, Rothschilds or reptiloids?

  14. Eclectic Man

    Sickening

    But not entirely surprising.

    Oh well, at least I can forget about all this mendacity as I enjoy some wholesome and pure entertainment watching the Aussies play South Africa at cricket.

    ;o)

    1. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge
      Devil

      Re: Sickening

      Do you watch the cricket live - or on tape?

  15. Spanners Silver badge
    Boffin

    Is it just who they helped?

    Would the world have been so angry at these idiots if their dodginess had been used to stop the stupidity Brexit and give the USA someone less screamingly crazy for president? I suspect not.

    People would have made really sure that it could not happen again in case the "wrong side" was supported. Well it definitely has been. Should we stop this sort of system ever being used again, or should we let the marginally less insane sides have a go?

    Silly question. This system must be so taken to bits and exposed that nothing like this can ever be used again. The US already has people hoping to impeach Trump. This may help.

    Here, the result of the referendum should be declared null and void. We can either have another vote or we can drop the idea.

    1. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge

      Re: Is it just who they helped?

      Labour under Corbyn and Obama did pretty well electorally with supposedly brilliantly targetted Facebook campaigns. Though they may have been run more ethically. Or not. We shall see. The common problem is Facebook.

  16. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Any bets as to how long before Chris Wylie is found in a zipped bag?

    (or gets an incurable illness, falls down escaaltor etc..)

    But to tidy up maybe Nix will get nixed too.

  17. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    AggregateIQ, GSR, Palantir… Any more firms to mention?

    "The web of organisations and people getting sucked into the scandal is growing rapidly"

    As I have been saying for over a year and a half now...to try and claim CA was the only company that abused the Graph API is absurd!

    The 50 million being reported is just from a single app, we will probably never know the actual amount of users affected because Facebook admitted they did not monitor the slurp.

    ( thank you for FINALLY calling the Graph API by it's name El Reg)

  18. Stu Mac

    Why would they invite a delusional twat like this??

  19. Brian Allan 1

    Wylie's 15 minutes of fame...

    Wylie enjoys having his name in the news and loves a conspiracy theory...

    Regardless of what he knows or imagines, companies like Cambridge Analytica will continue to arise, mine data and make money! Why? Simply because politics (and big business) is all about money, power and corruption at the highest levels.

    As for the privacy of your data, if you don't want it hacked/stolen/sold, don't put it in the public domain. If it is out there, it is no longer yours. It belongs to anyone with the resources to mine it!

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