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2018 Mar 24 - Cambridge Analytica

20180324
When it comes to news, this week has been more packed than Boris Johnson's vocabulary or Dianne Abbott's lunchbox. We finally got some headway on Brexit, HR McMaster was sacked and France had another terror attack: woowzers and I thought my local supermarket was bad on a Friday

But in the background has been the slow burning social media data story involving Facebook and Cambridge Analytica. At first I thought Cambridge Analytica was the stage name of one of President Trump's former girlfriends, or current girlfriends if rumors are to be believed. But it's actually a fairly dull number-crunching sort of a company based near London's Canary Wharf financial district.

During the 2016 US election, they essentially collected and analysed voter data for the Trump campaign which would normally be fine, they're a political data insight company and that's what they do, just like how Bloomberg provide financial data or how the Daily Mail's website provides all the news data you could ever need, assuming that your main interest in current affairs is focussed primarily on gossip, celebrity fashion, diet advice, and columnists complaining about how the new blue passports will be manufactured in France. Although personally I'd rather we got them made in Catelonia or somewhere else in Europe with a strong separatist movement, just to inspire them on a bit.

Cambridge Analytica though, from what's come out so far the naughty part was that they got access to everyone's data because they lied and told Facebook it was part of an anonymous academic study, rather than a key part of gaming the US electoral system for Donald Trump's political benefit as well as their financial benefit. It's sort of like if I walked into a BMW showroom and drove off with a car because I lied and said I was from head office and we were using it in an advert. Except Facebook is also a company whose business model is that it makes money by selling data, so if you're annoyed about them giving/selling your personal information to Cambridge Analytica then it's sort of like if you were the owner of that aforementioned BMW dealership and the chap taking the car for a spin was that chap out of Ant+Dec who got charged with drinking driving this week. Whether it's Facebook or otherwise, trusting a private company and it's shareholders with a lifetime of sensitive and often embarrassing personal information makes about as much sense as going on holiday and trusting Damien Hurst to look after your pet shark.
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