back to article More than 87m Facebook profiles farmed, says second ex-Cambridge Analytica witness

The number of Facebook users whose data was compromised via quizzes "is much greater than 87 million", Cambridge Analytica's former director of program development has told MPs. In written evidence (PDF) to the Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Committee, Brittany Kaiser wrote: "Cambridge Analytica and other unconnected …

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    1. DJO Silver badge

      Re: So Some People Know Nearly Everything About Everybody.... Suprise... NOT

      Whenever i hear, that the data has been destroyed, i just do not believe it.

      Why not? I'm positive they destroy the data as stated.

      Now the copies, backups, analyses, excerpts, reformattings, print-outs and miscellaneous versions, that's a different question. They are all far too valuable to destroy but be assured the original file is long gone.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: So Some People Know Nearly Everything About Everybody.... Suprise... NOT

      It's not even a matter of 'data mining' or 'data harvesting'.

      All Facebook users have generously offered their personal data on a silver platter to Zucky and co. And no one reads the Facebook TOS legalese.

      They have voluntarily relinquished privacy for the sake of 'convenience'... the real reason is vanity.

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I might create one of these quizzes and put it on Facebook.

    "Answer these questions to find out now how careful you are with your data and privacy."

    It just returns "You're not!".

    1. macjules Silver badge

      Simple Questions..

      1) Do you support Leave the EU? Y/N

      2) Do you think that Nigel Farage is the sexiest man alive? Y/N/WTF

      Thanks for completing our questionnaire. In order to enter you into our competition where you might win £100 million we just need the following information:

      1) Please enter your left shoe size

      2) Please enter your date of birth

      3) Please enter your bank sort code and account number

      We promise not to misuse your data .. well not as badly as CA might.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      "It just returns 'You're not!'"

      Seriously, that script seems strikingly similar to Equifax's Data-breach-Checker (see below). Wow! Americans have had a bumper year of getting their data-rights shat-on. So far the response from Lawmakers has been pretty non-existent! So you'd think more would turn their backs on Silicon Valley and its Don't-Be-Caught-Doing-Evil con... But apparently most Americans don't even realize who actually owns Instagram... Go figure! :-

      https://www.zdnet.com/article/we-tested-equifax-data-breach-checker-it-is-basically-useless/

      https://www.bloomberg.com/news/features/2018-04-10/instagram-looks-like-facebook-s-best-hope

    3. Grikath Silver badge

      actually....

      That is pretty much how a lot of this dataminig on FB is done...

      All those accounts that deal in nothing but "Pithy Quotes" , "If you feel [insert] tag/react", and others like it that thoroughly infect peoples' timelines, because "friends" keep reacting to them are nothing more than thinly disguised data mining. On a level far deeper and insidious than a plain questionnaire.

      The whole thing is ridiculously easy to set up, and is as close to subliminal interrogation as you can get, all without a shred of risk to whoever sets up the accounts. Once you're out in the wild, it's a gift that keeps on giving.

      In that sense, Cambridge Analytica is a high-profile but *small* player. The real big players are well in the shadows.

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    "The company completed a first phase of work for Leave.EU for £41,500, but was not commissioned to do more in-depth analysis"

    ... so another set of (re)moans from someone who's bid lost out.

    1. TonyJ Silver badge

      "...... so another set of (re)moans from someone who's bid lost out...."

      However...

      Whichever side of the political divide you happen to fall on, if - and only if - it was a free and fair election would your comment stand up to muster.

      If, on the other hand, it turns out that people were being manipulated wholesale in illegal manners then that's something else entirely and by all standards of common sense the vote should be nullified.

      But...before we get there, we would need to understand just how much meddling went on, to what level, and by exactly whom and to which target groups. I mean, if you're running adverts in the Daily Mail for your right wing border guarding nazi hound, you'd expect the market to already be fairly amenable to the message/product.

      Lots and lots of popcorn required.

      1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

        If Murdoch prints editorial lies for your election "It's The Sun Wot Won It" then he is likely to be visiting number 10 after the election for some payoff.

        If a mercenary organisation wins your election for an upfront cash payoff and no come back - isn't that better?

      2. Peter2 Silver badge

        Whichever side of the political divide you happen to fall on, if - and only if - it was a free and fair election would your comment stand up to muster.

        If, on the other hand, it turns out that people were being manipulated wholesale in illegal manners then that's something else entirely and by all standards of common sense the vote should be nullified.

        If you'll excuse me pointing it out, it's rather obvious which side of the political divide you happen to fall on, and that's the "proudly supporting Dīvide et imperā" side.

        I would go so far as to say that all standards of common sense dictates that under pretty much no circumstances should the democratic process be "nullified" because the losers don't like the result. There is a good reason for pretty much everything in our political system, it's a series of reactions to fix problems that have occoured previously. Reading any significant amount of history shows that we are given democratic choices because making peaceful democratic change impossible does not mean that change will not happen. It simply means that when the change happens it will be neither peaceful nor democratic.

        Hence why we get the vote. As soon as you make it impossible to implement peaceful democratic change that people vote for, change goes back to being made unpeacefully and undemocratically and this is generally considered undesirable by everybody but the frankly scary card carrying members of the extreme left and extreme right who are quite happy to kill in the name of their cause.

        1. Paul Crawford Silver badge

          Very true - simply nullifying a vote on the basis that some dodgy dealings allegedly* took place is a very risky idea and sounds a lot like certain tin-pot dictators do when general/presidential elections are held.

          However, using such dodgy dealings as a reason for holding a 2nd democratic vote once people have seen more, and making sure that any illegal actions are prevented, that is another matter altogether.

          [*] as we have not had a court trial yet, etc.

          1. james_smith

            ... simply nullifying a vote on the basis that some dodgy dealings allegedly* took place is a very risky idea ...

            A vote that was non-binding on Parliament. Parliament has ultimate soveriegnty, and no amount of referendums - which in the UK are basically as binding as an opinion poll - can change that.

            1. John Robson Silver badge

              A non-binding vote on a major issue - which divided the country basically into two equal sixths...

              The two thirds who either couldn't or didn't vote massively outweigh the voting population.

              The voting population was very finely balanced on an issue that is fundamentally asymmetric:

              - if we don't leave now we can leave in the future

              - if we do leave now we can't 'unleave' later

              Personally I think the vote was a mandate to wave a big stick at the EU with regard to negotiations, but not nearly strong enough to justify triggering article 50 on it's own.

              Another referendum in a decade or so would indicate whether the additional stick of the 'country ready to leave' has been sufficient...

              1. VinceH Silver badge

                "- if we do leave now we can't 'unleave' later"

                Well, we can, in the sense that we can (apply/try to) join. If and when we do actually leave, you can bet your last penny that somebody, somewhere will begin a campaign to try to get us back in.

                1. Anonymous Coward
                  Anonymous Coward

                  somebody, somewhere will begin a campaign to try to get us back in.

                  That's perfectly all right. If the referendum result had been "stay", the leave campaigning would very likely not have stopped either ...

                  1. VinceH Silver badge
                    WTF?

                    Re: somebody, somewhere will begin a campaign to try to get us back in.

                    Guaranteed.

                    Now, normally I don't do this, but this time I will: would the person who downvoted my post care to explain why - because that one is baffling me.

                    I didn't make a pro-remain or pro-leave comment, only made a prediction about what would happen if and when we are officially out. (But FTR, I voted to remain - and would do so again. And in the event of a referendum about rejoining, I would vote to join.)

                2. John Robson Silver badge

                  "- if we do leave now we can't 'unleave' later"

                  Well, we can, in the sense that we can (apply/try to) join.

                  Applying to join wouldn’t be ‘unleaving’ because we would not have the same degree of exemptions and independence that we have now... We would have to join as a new member, and that would include full union.

      3. Alan Johnson

        @TonyJ

        "If, on the other hand, it turns out that people were being manipulated wholesale in illegal manners then that's something else entirely and by all standards of common sense the vote should be nullified."

        The problem with this is that the referendum was just advisory. The binding vote was in parliment and that was only indirectly affected by whatever happened. If you are paranoid then you could see this as planned, influence a non-binding vote illegally to cause parliment to vote for something it would certainly not have done so otherwise and be protected so if it comes out only the non-binding vote is affected. I think this was just accidental rather than a plot.

        I am actually a remoaner in taht I think leaving teh EU will be permenantly damaging to the UK economy taking us back to where we were before we entered the EU - the sick man of europe, the big economy that bumps along performing worse than other comparable economies. However I see taking any action over what probably were campaign finance rules breaches by the brexit side very problematic. Were the rule breaches big enough to affetc the result? The vote was in any case purely advisory and the precedent of changing an election result on this basis would be such as to encourage legal fights and campaigns about irregularaties after every election. On the other hand doing nothing would make therules a dead letter and widely ignored eventually ending up with the US model of elections that are so costly no one who is not immensely wealthy or in debt to the immensely wealthy can be elected. The solution would be that if serious breachs are found senior politicians responsible for the campaigns are jailed. This will never happen even if legally possible which I doubt.

  4. LDS Silver badge
    WTF?

    "because, as upper class Brits, they did not want to front up the deal"

    Could someone explain this to non-Brits? Not many countries have a society so throughout stratified in a caste system like Britain or India, that you need proxies to talk with someone....

    1. Paul Crawford Silver badge

      Re: "because, as upper class Brits, they did not want to front up the deal"

      Try the phrase "getting your hands dirty"

      1. LDS Silver badge

        "Try the phrase "getting your hands dirty"

        I could understand the need to cover your arse and hide something, and send someone who can't be tracked to you ... or even sending an underling to be able to tell "I didn't know about it, the underling did it without my approval!". But she didn't say that.

        Telling it was the need to find a Dalit enough from your company to talk to someone because of your class could still baffle people outside Britain...

        1. Dan 55 Silver badge
          Happy

          Re: "Try the phrase "getting your hands dirty"

          Well, she's American, so you're not understanding her not understanding.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: "because, as upper class Brits, they did not want to front up the deal"

      because people like Ivar Mountbatten (third cousin once removed of Queen Elizabeth II and shares a direct line from Queen Victoria) can't be getting involved in the dirty work of the peons.

    3. iron Silver badge

      Re: "because, as upper class Brits, they did not want to front up the deal"

      They didn't want to talk to the dirty commoner in case they caught something.

    4. lobsterpasties

      Re: "because, as upper class Brits, they did not want to front up the deal"

      I am afraid old chap I can't explain this to you because you are a foreigner and as a Brexit voter I clearly despise all of you.

    5. Brewster's Angle Grinder Silver badge

      Re: "because, as upper class Brits, they did not want to front up the deal"

      I'm a Brit and I could do with having it explained to me. :/

      If Banks is working-class, they may have thought he'd take umbrage at them for being posh. I know, I might.

      Or perhaps class was just cover. Maybe they couldn't stand Banks. Maybe they thought he was a letch who might open up for a bit totty; you know what they say about sex.1

      1. What they say about sex is, "Ask first." As Julian Assange will confirm.

  5. chivo243 Silver badge
    Trollface

    Wow

    the news just keeps getting

  6. fidodogbreath Silver badge

    Facebook is happy to talk about Cambridge Analytica...

    ...because they are very eager to portray CA's actions as shocking -- shocking, I tell you! -- and far outside of the norms of proper, ethical mass surveillance. Bad actors. Rogues. Outlaws, even. An egregious violation of FB's terms of use...so much so that it NEVER EVEN OCCURRED TO THEM that their creepy surveillance data could EVER be misused in such a manner.

    Bullshit. B-U-L-L-S-H-I-T.

    This is absolutely the norm for how companies (and governments) use and handle data from FB, Google, Twitter, et al; and one would have to be profoundly [dense | gullible | oblivious | in denial | your pejorative here] to believe Zuck's (or any other social media exec's) protestations to the contrary.

    The sad irony is that the sheeplike masses don't seem to give a shit. FB has spent huge sums developing their impenetrable privacy policy and disjointed settings screens that don't really do anything; when all they ever needed was "We're raping your privacy. Hey, look at the cute thing your college roommate's cousin's cat did yesterday."

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Facebook Analytica

    Interesting that CA were only suspended and not banned for life... Why is that - Is it because there is no real difference between Zuk & Nix? They both see the world the same way, there to be played. It doesn't matter whose playing, as long as they're paying! Money has no morals, its useful for 200k chandeliers though...

    As long as no one is planning to blow up Facebook HQ, why not make the global spying apparatus available to anyone with serious $$$. That's why Zuk & Nix can't really talk about how their firms work. Its also why politicians don't want to mess with Facebook or CA. They're useful tools - for hire. The world's greatest behavioral experiment on humans ever... What's not to like about that propaganda machine!

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Um Ahhh

    Folks are dumb

    When they "like" the thumb!

  9. Securitymoose
    Big Brother

    Does anyone actually answer these things truthfully?

    I can't believe that anyone would put in the truthful answers to any of the questions in such a poll. They are there for fun and imagination. If the data on all these users is not totally useless I'd be most surprised.

    On Facebook, when they asked me to enter my age, I chose the oldest one possible - according to my profile, I live in Sweetfannyadams Wisconsin and am 115 years old, support the Swedish Ladies' Football Team, and have my on wombat farm. I also think that Nigel Farage is the new Rudolph Valentino and my hairdresser's gibbon is called Steve.

    Stuff that in your database, whoever you are.

    Seriously though, this is also why opinion polls don't usually work, and why when they ask you for your password in the street, the most common one used is "**** off and stop bothering me, why don't you?" (actually, that's not a bad one if you just use the first letters of each word.)

    1. Prst. V.Jeltz Silver badge

      that's not a bad one if you just use the first letters of each word.

      FOASBMWDY?

    2. terrythetech
      Coat

      Re: Does anyone actually answer these things truthfully?

      So FB now know that a 115 year old from Sweetfannyadams is also Securitymoose on El Reg comments.

  10. Prst. V.Jeltz Silver badge

    Why has no-one asked *what* data was leaked?

    Hair colour?

    Childhood school?

    Address?

    Darkest fantasy?

    surely that is more pertinant ? along with Do they tie the info to actual names or is it anonymised?

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