back to article Facebook's at it again: Internal emails show it knew about Cambridge Analytica abuse 'months' before news broke

Facebook knew about Cambridge Analytica's dodgy data-gathering practices at least four months before they was exposed in news reports, according to internal FB emails. Crucially, the staff memos contradict public assurances made by Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg as well as sworn testimony offered by the company. Those emails …

  1. elDog Silver badge

    I'm guessing there are some other large data traffickers that will have their time in the docket.

    Boofkace is really just a bunch of wannabe savants with too much money and too little wisdom.

    Makes me think of that old nugget: Data -> Information -> Knowledge -> Wisdom

    Boofkace is probably somewhere in that Information -> knowledge phase without any adult (wise) leadership. When money rules, wisdom is expendable.

    Google may be similar but a bit better structured?

    Amazon seems to have its eyes on the prize, but it'll probably mean forking all of us.

    1. Mark 85 Silver badge

      Re: I'm guessing there are some other large data....

      Its work culture is fundamentally broken with top executives making it plain that the company will obfuscate, mislead, block and bully before they even consider telling the truth – and that culture attracts more of the same..

      This statement pretty much sums up the online tech businesses of which you've given a few prime examples and can apply to almost if not all of them. It's also bled over into other businesses. "Screw the users/customers, we want profit!" is the mantra of business. Ethics seem to only a course in college that everyone sleeps through.

      1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge
        Pirate

        Re: I'm guessing there are some other large data....

        "Screw the users/customers, we want profit!" is the mantra of business. Ethics seem to only a course in college that everyone sleeps through.

        It's the natural consequence of an unregulated free market. This is exactly why some of those "socialist" regulations are necessary, to maintain a healthy free market against all the efforts of the sociopathic CEOs. Competition through merit and NOT because the bigger boys with a shit product can undercut/take losses until the competition goes bust.

  2. alain williams Silver badge

    Thumbs up to the Reg hack

    that dug up that Pinocchio in a suit image!

    1. Anonymous South African Coward Silver badge

      Re: Thumbs up to the Reg hack

      So Pinocchio is now working for [REDACTED] in a [REDACTED] position?

      Fnarrr fnarrr fnarrr

  3. LenG

    Why is this news?

    This is dog bites man,

    News is Man bites Dog. Need to find a Facebook press release which is not a pack of lies before it is even really worth reporting.

    1. JohnFen Silver badge

      Re: Why is this news?

      This may not be news in the sense of something unexpected, but it is news in the sense of letting people know things that they should know.

      Yes, everyone here knows how awful Facebook is -- but there are tons of normal people who don't. When you tell one of those people to avoid Facebook, they'll ask "why do you think they're so bad?" It's awfully nice to be aware of specific things that you can point to in response.

    2. VikiAi Silver badge
      Boffin

      Re: Why is this news?

      It's more "Dog, who's owner swore blind was not biting man, and the general public believed that such a cute doggie wouldn't ever bite man, found to have bitten man repeatedly on multiple occasions."

  4. disgruntled yank Silver badge

    train wreck? broken?

    There seem to be bodies and debris in plenty along the track, but at this point Facebook is rolling right along.

    Do I believe any particular statement that Facebook makes? No, not necessarily. Does it matter to Facebook? No, not really.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: train wreck? broken?

      I'd bet they'd notice a £1bn fine, and jail time for Zuckerberg if he ever sets foot in a British dependency.

      1. Voyna i Mor Silver badge

        Re: train wreck? broken?

        Notice, but put down as a cost of business, like a bootlegger bribing the police.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: train wreck? broken?

          like a bootlegger bribing the police

          That is a *very* apt analogy, given that most politicians still need FB to do their marketing.

    2. CHMultimedia

      Re: train wreck? broken?

      FB isn't rolling right along. They roll over dead bodies, dead privacy...

      When the heat goes up inside the Facebook train, the Zuck Captain suggests us to look at the nice scenic view of Facebook land. Like how it can save someone from cancer because a user suggested another user he/she may have cancer... (as seen on https://www.theregister.co.uk/2019/03/08/facebook_privacy_transcript/ )

    3. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

      Re: train wreck? broken?

      "Does it matter to Facebook? No, not really."

      Yet! Problems are accumulating. Eventually you reach the last straw.

  5. Simon B-52

    I'm shocked . . .

    No, just kidding, I actually can't imagine DisgraceBook being capable of shocking me anymore.

    1. werdsmith Silver badge

      Re: I'm shocked . . .

      What shocks me is intelligent people knowing how despicable it is, still support it as members.

      Some of them even use it to get sanctimonious about despicable things.

  6. Claptrap314 Bronze badge

    Whose ox is gored?

    I'll keep pointing this out since McCarthy never seems to. As reported in these pages in 2012, Facebook worked directly with the Obama campaign to implement almost the exact same system that CA used for Trump in 2016. For Obama, it is a bold, brilliant step into the 21st century by an enlightened campaign. For Trump, it's a sleazy, underhanded and illegal attempt by a campaign. Sure.

    1. JohnFen Silver badge

      Re: Whose ox is gored?

      When the Obama campaign used these facilities, they were aboveboard and honest about it, and had something that could plausibly be called consent. That's a pretty big difference.

      I'm not saying that I think it was a great thing to do -- I'm just saying that it wasn't quite a comparable thing.

      In both cases, the real sleaze was Facebook.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Whose ox is gored?

      The reg forums are getting too big an influx of FoxNews viewers...some like this more blatant than others.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Whose ox is gored? Don't listen he's evil.

        When you know they are right trying to poison the well can be a very good option. It exposes ones own lack of response but it will comfort those that need a reason for not agreeing.

        It is also a tactic effectively used by Facebook and supporters of the current form of capitalism that encourages lying, cheating and corruption.

  7. Stevie Silver badge

    Bah!

    What a festering pile of steaming [REDACTED].

  8. CHMultimedia

    After being such a loyal Facebook user, I feel [REDACTED] about this news. The fact that they [REDACTED] such information to the [REDACTED] only [REDACTED] this sentiment.

  9. BebopWeBop Silver badge
    Holmes

    Zuck omitted, incidentally, that Facebook threatened to sue the newspaper if it published its story.

    The Grauniad and and in particular Carole Cadwalladr did a fine job exposing and detailing the abuses for public observation. While it only appears to be gently eroding Facebook's value, one hopes the decline will be non linear (as growth for social apps has been in the past). One expects that Zuckerberg and the execs have salted away a lot of the proceeds by now, but future civi litigation may well come after those assets in the future.

  10. Chris G Silver badge

    Be careful where you tread

    Facebook is the cockroach of the internet, needs treading on but then you will have a mess on the sole of your shoe. There is also the saying that if you tread on a

    cockroach it will release hundreds of eggs that will become little cockroaches do I guess Faecebook needs incineration.

    1. robidy

      Re: Be careful where you tread

      Like any organisation, FB has many good and bad points e.g. Whatsapp is great for keeping in touch in an emergency and is ad free right now (i predict that will change). FB has brought many people back in touch after years and decades apart.

      Throw the bath water out, by all means possible but don't burn the baby.

      1. Chris G Silver badge

        Re: Be careful where you tread

        I think you'll find this baby is a cuckoo or a changeling. Whatsapp may have had it's uses just like Friends Reunited but now it is a part of the pandemic that is Faecebook it needs surgery.

        There are other flavours of communication that don't leave an aftertaste.

        1. Roger Kynaston

          I have tried

          I deleted my FB profile in the wake of the CA scandal. It was only rubbish anyway and circular arguments about Brexit.

          However, I have since been bounced into whatsapp now. I didn't used to have it and then I joined an evening class and there was a whatsapp group. I tried to get them on slack (is that any better btw?) and met with stonewalling and, the best one, what is slack questions.

          How to I stay clear of the evil internet big corps?

    2. Boris the Cockroach Silver badge

      Re: Be careful where you tread

      Quote

      Facebook is the cockroach of the internet

      Oi.. speaking one of the many cockroaches who lead a full and fulfilling life, how dare you associate our noble kind with depths of infamy that is facebork

      I demand an apology at once.. and leaving of more food debris around your fridge/gap in the skirting board

      1. werdsmith Silver badge

        Re: Be careful where you treadern

        WhatsApp is not essential, there are enough alternatives.

        The remaining users all seem to have some excuse, like needing to stay in touch. That’s as lame an excuse as can be. It basically means too lazy to find a better way to stay in touch. There is no acceptable excuse for continued support of toxic corporations like Faecebook.

        Faecebook is the sewer of the internet. The cockroaches are the ones crawling around in the sewer.

        1. Waseem Alkurdi Silver badge

          Re: Be careful where you treadern

          How in hell can you get a whole workplace/school/college of 1000+ to leave the Facebook group and use an alternative?

          Your idea works if you're talking about others' communications to you; not so much if about losing a much-needed Facebook group with 1000+ members that don't and won't understand the issue with Facebook.

          1. werdsmith Silver badge

            Re: Be careful where you treadern

            Yeah laziness on the part of the college/organisation and the students. It really wouldn't be a big job, especially if people understood the ethical reasons. Start by blocking the domain and providing guidance to the alternative. Given what we know about Faecebook, how the hell can the college/organisation carry on using it?

            The Uni that I work with provides an online meeting place for its courses on its own systems. Some students would start up a separate Faecebook group for their course, which then excluded the non-Faecebook users. This is typical thoughtless behaviour, and the Faecebook groups were discouraged (not possible to ban them but that's what they need to do).

            1. Waseem Alkurdi Silver badge
              Thumb Up

              Re: Be careful where you treadern

              Yeah laziness on the part of the college/organisation and the students. It really wouldn't be a big job, especially if people understood the ethical reasons.

              People don't and won't understand unfortunately. They always repeat the infamous "If you've got nothing to hide, then you've got nothing to fear", which, frankly, is true in essence, unlike what some say. Explaining the problem with the heeeeuuuuge amount of data they hold and the potential uses would be responded to with a "better get your tinfoil on, then", as usual.

              Edit: And how is a member of the cattle (not a higher-up) convince 1000+ different people, and face 1000+ different tantrums?

              Start by blocking the domain and providing guidance to the alternative.

              That's if you're the sysadmin. But what if you're the worker/student? And your sysadmins save for one (who's really a DBA, not a sysadmin) all use Facebook/WhatsApp/etc?

              Given what we know about Faecebook, how the hell can the college/organisation carry on using it?

              Convenience, they say. Everybody and their dog has it.

              The Uni that I work with provides an online meeting place for its courses on its own systems. Some students would start up a separate Faecebook group for their course, which then excluded the non-Faecebook users.

              This EXACTLY is what I'm talking about, except that the "non-FB users" here is a minority of one, and the "official" forum is unused at all because of the popularity of the Facebook group.

              This is typical thoughtless behaviour, and the Faecebook groups were discouraged (not possible to ban them but that's what they need to do).

              Discourage something, and it only gets more popular, unfortunately.

              1. Anonymous Coward
                Anonymous Coward

                Re: Be careful where you treadern

                Yes, it's a shame Diaspora doesn't have any commercial power behind it to make it look good and make it easy to use for people - the problem is quite simply the revenue model.

                Set up a membership model and people won't use it because they do not realise that Facebook's "free" really means "paying with the personal information of you and your friends" (let's not forget that last bit). Set up advertising and you'll need a vast size to get a sufficient enough income to keep things free without selling people's information behind their back (the mainstay of FB's income).

      2. Waseem Alkurdi Silver badge
        Thumb Up

        Re: Be careful where you tread

        Nice one, @Boris!

      3. Anonymous South African Coward Silver badge

        Re: Be careful where you tread

        A Russkie roach? You come from Chernobylsk, da?

        1. Boris the Cockroach Silver badge
          Happy

          Re: Be careful where you tread

          Net

          I worked for British nuclear fuels once... ended up 6 feet tall with a nice healthy glow....

          1. Voyna i Mor Silver badge

            Re: Be careful where you tread

            You mean....just like a Chernobyl roach?

    3. Potemkine! Silver badge

      Re: Be careful where you tread

      Facebook is the cockroach of the internet

      Once again many. It seems the web 2.0 helped them to proliferate.

  11. JassMan Silver badge

    All this reopens the question.

    If Cambridge Analytica were able to work out whether users were likely to be amenable to Brexit persuasion, and then send those users a emails / targetted political adverts to confirm their warped views of Europe, How come FaceBook themselves can't work which users post abhorrent messages to MPs who don't agree with their extremist views.

    MPs have repeatedly complained that the police have been told it is impossible link a user ID to to an individual post, yet the system obviously does this internally. It is also unlikely that any linking info is in anyway encrypted if they store passwords in plain text. Contempt of court is treated VERY seriously by the UK judicial system with UNLIMITED penalties. Perhaps £1 billion / denied request might convince them to stop telling lies in answer to every question they are asked.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: All this reopens the question of who's view

      Warped views? Those would be those you do not agree with? If not now such a system would ensure that eventually would it not?

      One problem with exposing abhorrent messages to MPS is that the largest group with generally agreed to abhorrent messages have political protection. Agreed to abhorrent messages would include killing people for their gender or sexual orientation or choice to leave an ideology.

      At least those would be agreed to abhorrent messages today. Trends in other countries suggest that will change with time.

      That political protection means Facebook is being encouraged to lie, at least when it comes to abhorrent messages and the origins and similarities between those sending them.

      How can governments fine or ban them for telling lies while needing them to lie on some topics?

  12. cat_mara

    "Those were two different things"

    "I mean, we can barely keep track of the cock-ups in here so it's no surprise you guys are having trouble out there"

  13. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    A good Ivy League education

    > The truth is that Facebook is a train wreck with executives encouraged to do whatever they wanted in order to secure Facebook's position in the digital economy and bring in revenue, regardless of laws or ethics or morals or anything else.

    This is literally what the Ivy League universities teach their MBA students to do.

    No surprise at all when they go into the world and do it. With the most psychopathic of these MBAs being the highest scorers, hired by Facebook, The Street (Financial Services firms), Google, ...

  14. John Brown (no body) Silver badge
    Flame

    I wonder if....

    Zucks pants are on fire? Does he have a personal fire-fighter on retainer?

  15. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    [REDACTED]

    Mark [REDACTED] is a [REDACTED] [REDACTED] and I hope he gets [REDACTED] up the [REDACTED] with a gigantic [REDACTED] that’s been covered in Tabasco [REDACTED].

  16. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Local action for everyone

    Write to you MPs, Government departments, etc who espouse FB on their websites.

    Ask when they will be removing said connections.

    Ask how they can continue to associate with such an organisation.

    Demand an answer.

    1. OssianScotland

      Re: Local action for everyone

      Demand an answer.

      But don't hold your breath waiting for it...

  17. John Smith 19 Gold badge
    Unhappy

    It must be hell to be a PR for FB.

    So many lies to keep track of all the time.

    The opening scene of "The Social Network" (Zuckerberb breaking up with GF) comes to mind vividly whenever I see yet another FB story.

  18. John Smith 19 Gold badge
    Unhappy

    People who think this is a new phenomena in IT

    Should look at Microsoft's behaviour though the 80's and 90's.

    MS has never had any friends in the software industry.

    Just companies it hadn't destroyed or absorbed yet.

    1. Paul 195

      Re: People who think this is a new phenomena in IT

      Microsoft definitely played very rough with their competitors in the 90s - in a not dissimilar way to IBM in the 70s and 80s. But so far nobody has suggested they sold their users out to the highest, sorry, that should read "any" bidder. Saying "never mind Facebook, look at Microsoft" is just whataboutery.

  19. livin' thing
    Unhappy

    Please get rid of the social media buttons from this site...

    So you’re not part of the problem. Thanks.

  20. Anonymous South African Coward Silver badge

    [REDACTED]face and [REDACTED] can go and [REDACTED] themselves with a [REDACTED].

  21. Walter Bishop Silver badge
    Mushroom

    Sam Vaknin on the TRUE toxicity of social media

    Sam Vaknin: “We so, the profile of the men who invented social media and we are talking about all these men, it is very very very narrowly defined. They created social media in their own image of course, since they were asexual asocial schizoid white men, they created a tool which was geared towards asexual asocial schizoid white men.”

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Sam Vaknin on the TRUE toxicity of social media

      The internet is full of people complaining about what white males have or haven’t done. No matter what it is or whether it’s objectively good or bad.

  22. elvisimprsntr

    Proof FB is an open sewer and Zuck is a worm. Let's just hope he does not procreate.

    1. Jimmy2Cows

      Your hope is too late.

  23. deadlockvictim Silver badge

    capitalism

    El Reg hack» The truth is that Facebook is a train wreck with executives encouraged to do whatever they wanted in order to secure Facebook's position in the digital economy and bring in revenue, regardless of laws or ethics or morals or anything else.

    But this is capitalism. Why are we surprised? All that matters is shareholder value.

  24. dnicholas Bronze badge

    Weird science

    Wonder if they are still working on that creepy robot AI thing they kept showing off last year. Zuckerberg I think it was called

    1. Red Bren
      Joke

      Re: Weird science

      "Zuckerborg I think it was called"

      FTFY

    2. Huw D

      Re: Weird science

      Not AutoSergei then?

  25. Milton Silver badge

    New evidence for the Stupid Epidemic

    In the past when I have caustically remarked upon the amazing stupidity of such a large proportion of the population—I'd guess at least one-third—I have been, reasonably enough, accused of intolerant, intellectual arrogance. After a while, my answer became: "Go drive around on Britain's roads for a couple of hours, in town and including some motorway miles, observing carefully, and then come back and tell me I am wrong." In truth I don't know if anyone ectually went and did this, but the point, often enough, was conceded: we are surrounded by a heck of a lot of outright fools and idiots.

    I think I can update this for the modern era. "Facebook is a company of almost unhinged avarice and amorality, with a reputation for pathological lies and law-breaking, misuse and abuse of data, a breeding ground for extremism and hatred, facilitator of treasonous interference in western democracy by its repressive nation-state enemies, a medium infested by propaganda and misinformation, which offers you a 'free' service and then proceeds to rape your privacy, turns you into a commodity and sells you, for monetisation and manipulation, to the highest bidder. People who have every reason to be aware of this nevertheless continue to use Facebook. So go ahead and tell me again that a large proportion of the population are not clueless imbeciles."

    (In truth, it is an even more universal argument for the sheer stupidity of people than watching the nation that once managed the largest empire ever seen on Earth commit deliberate economic suicide in the most flounderingly incompetent farrago of childlike idiocy I have ever witnessed.)

    Whether it's pollution and/or social media or just the much-hypothesised Stupid Ray beamed at our planet by aliens: something in the last 20—30 years seems to have turned half of humanity into raging cretins.

    1. Voyna i Mor Silver badge

      Re: New evidence for the Stupid Epidemic

      It was ever thus but in the past we didn't have an Internet - or a Facebook - to make it so obvious to us.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: New evidence for the Stupid Epidemic

        >> It was ever thus but in the past we didn't have an Internet - or a Facebook - to make it so obvious to us.

        Ahhh! A positive statement about the benefits of social media -- we get to see how many idiots there are out there, both in the masses and at the top of the heap.

        (Oh, am I using a form of social media in responding to a comment??)

    2. John Smith 19 Gold badge
      Happy

      "deliberate economic suicide in the most..incompetent farrago of childlike idiocy..ever witnessed."

      I may be mistaken here but I don't think you voted Leave in the recent referendum.

  26. FuzzyWuzzys Silver badge

    "A DC-based Facebook employee warned the company that Cambridge Analytica was a “[REDACTED]."

    ...bunch of slimey, pond dwelling scum that should tarred, feathered and taken out to the middle of the nearest fireant hill and smeared with raspberry jam.

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