When Chris & I spoke on Sunday evening about the emerging Cambridge Analytica story as we recorded WB40 I was confused. As further revelations have emerged through Carole Cadwalladr’s fantastic and dogged reporting (which I have been following for months), I am reminded of the Morrissey lyric “I was happy in the haze of a drunken hour, but heaven knows I’m miserable now”. For the avoidance of any doubt, I never record WB40 drunk.
I’m still conflicted. There’s a random selection thoughts in my head…
See, this is why I never played Farm Fucking Ville.
The number of tech people I know who sort of assumed that everyone just knew that this was possible/happening and Facebook users should have know I find a worrying indication of the gap between the technology community and the rest of The World. However, I’d also challenge those same tech people to clearly state the terms and conditions that they’ve signed up to on any web-based service.
I’ve never met someone who works in the world of Direct Marketing (you know – old school junk mail) who ever gave their permission to receive the stuff themselves.
Eton really has produced a generation of utter shit-balls. Cameron, Johnson, Rees-Mogg and now Nix to add to the rogues gallery of the output of the school with a Slough postcode who seem intent on screwing this country up for everyone else.
Democracy is now utterly in the grip of Goodhart’s and Campbell’s laws: if you set a metric (winning an electoral majority) as being the goal then the meaning of the metric (the election of a government or the decision of a referendum) changes, and people will game the system to hit the goal. CA is a perfect example of the money now involed in the latter.
But despite all of this, the over-riding thought I have is LET’S STOP THE NONSENSE THAT THE BULLSHIT CA HAVE BEEN SELLING ACTUALLY WORKS THE WAY THEY SAY IT DOES. It’s as much in the ball park of Wanamaker’s maxim about advertising (50% is wasted and you don’t know which half). See Cory Doctorow’s great article explaining in more detail here.
There’s no great insight or analytical machine behind all of this. There’s certainly the possiblity of the illegal theft of lots of personal data, but whether the ICO will be able to uncover that or not depends on how quickly the boffins at CA have been able to delete all the evidence. And you can be assured that they’ll be running the hard disks at white heat at the moment. But otherwise what we’ve probably got is a digitally-industrialised effort to throw mud against a wall. Did they win or lose elections like they claim? The simple truth is that we will never actually know – there’s no opportunity to test.