Tag Archives: the Observer

How Facebook data flows

This started just 4 hours ago when the Guardian gave us ‘50 million Facebook profiles harvested for Cambridge Analytica in major data breach‘ (at https://www.theguardian.com/news/2018/mar/17/cambridge-analytica-facebook-influence-us-election). Even when we see “Whistleblower describes how firm linked to former Trump adviser Steve Bannon compiled user data to target American voters“, we tend to wonder, because me getting any data from my own account in Facebook is a stretch under the most optimal of conditions. So when we see “how Cambridge Analytica – a company owned by the hedge fund billionaire Robert Mercer, and headed at the time by Trump’s key adviser Steve Bannon – used personal information taken without authorisation in early 2014 to build a system that could profile individual US voters, in order to target them with personalised political advertisements“, so in all this I am not saying it is not possible and that it did not happened. The video that the Guardian offered, the interview with the whistle-blower is nice, but it is quite something else. You see, what I got out of that interview is not answers, but questions. So when I heard “grossly unethical experiments” and “you are playing with the psychology of an entire nation in the context of the democratic process“. Here I wonder (for a mere moment) if something wrong was done at all. This is social media; social media is something that has no boundaries and no actual setting of limits.

We tend to set the bar of any social given at whatever level it should be according to us, but in reality, there is no social setting, not until enough people complain. I have seen many apps that are out there that do not only want your name, gender, age and so forth. They also want your religious and other settings and most people are happy to click ‘OK’. So this is something we are walking into and the given stupidity of many Americans means that a free game is something that comes for free and whatever it stated with the ‘allowed access to‘ is pretty much ignored, especially when the people around them state that it is a very cool free game. So when I see “built models to exploit what we knew about them and target their inner demons. That was the basis the entire company was built on.”” we see that Robert Mercer has found a business model that works. The question merely remains on how that data was captured, if it was through ‘cool apps’ there is little that Facebook can do, unless it has exact legislation at their fingers to state that the law was broken. Yet in all this the fact that this happened in 2014 and that the Guardian (and the Observer) had the scoop 4 years later gives rise that the farmed data is not merely still in use, it is actively used for whatever endeavour Robert Mercer has in play to gain maximum profit, because that is what a billionaire does. So when we see “Documents seen by the Observer, and confirmed by a Facebook statement, show that by late 2015 the company had found out that information had been harvested on an unprecedented scale. However, at the time it failed to alert users and took only limited steps to recover and secure the private information of more than 50 million individuals” the outrage should follow, but with ‘it failed to alert users‘ implies that Facebook did not care about the users, but about the business model, as well as ‘took only limited steps to recover and secure the private information‘ gives rise that their data was merely secure enough and no actual loss was found, that is the view we get when a firm where data is their direct market value data and ‘secure the private information of more than 50 million individuals‘ was not done. It is actually that simple, those who claim it not to be are merely hiding in the margins, hoping to strike it rich themselves, because that is what the data of 50 million people offers.

It goes further when we see the NY Times claim. With ‘How Trump Consultants Exploited the Facebook Data of Millions‘ (at https://www.nytimes.com/2018/03/17/us/politics/cambridge-analytica-trump-campaign.html), we see “During a week of inquiries from The Times, Facebook downplayed the scope of the leak and questioned whether any of the data still remained out of its control. But on Friday, the company posted a statement expressing alarm and promising to take action“, not only does it imply that the data is beyond their control, it gives rise that others have access to it which is more alarming. The Facebook system has failed its members to the extent that their privacy did not exist for close to 4 years. So how much data have you shared in the last 4 years thinking it was only for your friends?

In addition, the claim we see in the NY Times “Alexander Nix, the chief executive of Cambridge Analytica, and other officials had repeatedly denied obtaining or using Facebook data, most recently during a parliamentary hearing last month. But in a statement to The Times, the company acknowledged that it had acquired the data, though it blamed Mr. Kogan for violating Facebook’s rules and said it had deleted the information as soon as it learned of the problem two years ago“, when combined with what the Guardian is giving us is a rise to the setting that both Alexander Nix of Cambridge Analytica and the speakers of Facebook are both incorrect, insincere and without any doubt cause for great concern and so far the Facebook users are in the dark on a near global level.

I can applaud Robert Mercer to some extent, you see with “The conservative donor Robert Mercer invested $15 million in Cambridge Analytica, where his daughter Rebekah is a board member” we see one side, the other side is that all things being equal the return on his investment is close to five-fold, making is a wise investment when the goal is merely $$$$.

In all this we can give the Facebook users the bird, not because we hate them, but for years I have spoken out clearly that these users are all about stating ‘privacy’ no the NSA whilst at the same time sharing indiscriminately on social media like Facebook, whilst not comprehending the system because it was ‘free’. This is the direct consequence and these users will be used again and again because that is what they signed up for. So when Robert Mercer is offered a $25 million deal with an international IT firm like Vintage Alternating Java Academy or Medicinal Office of International Studies, we will see a CEO who will happily oblige, yet have you figured out yet where that data ended up? That is how the game is played, so when they cannot sell the data and the firm gets taken over by a Chinese multinational, do you think that the data stays in that one place? This is what you all signed up for. You might be in denial and you might state that it should not happen, but the law is very easy on what should happen and what is legally possible, the ‘should happen‘ group loses without a moment’s hesitation. The only part that I am not getting is what I would personally describe as ‘the Facebook level of ignorance’. You see, either some players were intentionally extremely stupid, or they were in on it form the beginning. They were in on it as they did not address the flaw they had exposed themselves to and they thought they had stopped the fear for 3 years, but now as we see merely two days ago, over three years after the fact has happened “a Russian-American academic, from Facebook. “We will take whatever steps are required to see that the data in question is deleted once and for all — and take action against all offending parties”“, as well as ““This was a scam — and a fraud,” Paul Grewal, a vice president and deputy general counsel at the social network” they are now realising that they set themselves up for a much larger negative boost. You see, when these 50 million users find out that they have been had, will they remain with Facebook? So what happened when the global wave starts and Facebook optionally loses 10% users, how will they sell that? It was the short-sighted prospect of meeting the sales needs and targets that got them in hot water. That is the foundation of the loss they set themselves up for and in all this, Americans far and wide have given their privacy up for a much larger extent that they realise and this path will take at least a few weeks as Facebook is setting all their guns to downplay any information that the public is exposed to.

So as we are ‘exposed’ to ““Protecting people’s information is at the heart of everything we do,” Mr. Grewal said. “No systems were infiltrated, and no passwords or sensitive pieces of information were stolen or hacked.” Still, he added, “it’s a serious abuse of our rules.”“. So is that true? You see the data shows that he is not truthful, because if that was an actual setting than Facebook would have had their own cloud for analytical solutions that did not require the export of data, but we see that this did not happen. So as we see the altered statement of ‘No systems were infiltrated, and no passwords or sensitive pieces of information were stolen or hacked‘, we could paraphrase this into ‘we voluntarily handed over the data to be used outside of the Facebook system‘. So does this make Robert Mercer the most intelligent entrepreneur, or is he merely the first one who got found out. So when we take a look at the flowchart in the Guardian article we see that Alekandr Kogan is linked to Cambridge University, St Petersburg State University, the Russian Government, as well as Global Science Research (GSR), which he founded, we see the setting that as academics are all about reselling their solutions for maximised economic profit, we see that the link between GSR and SCL Election Ltd (which now links Alexander Nix, we see that the data has likely gone a lot wider than anyone expected and there we have the setting that Facebook and their position of ‘it cannot be used legitimately in the future and must be deleted immediately‘, when data is out there it is NEVER deleted, whomever thinks that this actually happens will be delusional at the very best.

So when we see “That to me was the most astonishing thing. They waited two years and did absolutely nothing to check that the data was deleted. All they asked me to do was tick a box on a form and post it back“, which we get from former employee Christopher Wylie, gives the rise of the delusional settings that are seemingly available at Facebook. This now gets us to the final part “Paul-Olivier Dehaye, a data protection specialist, who spearheaded the investigative efforts into the tech giant, said: “Facebook has denied and denied and denied this. It has misled MPs and congressional investigators and it’s failed in its duties to respect the law“. I personally see this as the fallout to keep the billions of advertisement revenue rolling, because the larger the revenue stake, the less oversight is given to that firm. That is a view we have seen with the larger players for close to a decade. So is anyone actually surprised to see the Facebook data flow far beyond the borders of Facebook?

We as users have merely ourselves to thank for the shortcomings that exposes our privacy all over the world making it non-existent.



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A hanging matter

In light of all the news we see, from North Korea who is gracing the planet with tectonic shocks to HSBC who now heralds “the deferred prosecution agreement (DPA) entered into with the Department of Justice (DoJ) had expired – lifting the threat of further penalties“, yes these are the parties you simply care about. But the fact is that the issues seen should be regarded as trivial, even as most board members of HSBC should be hung from a lamp post by the neck, mainly because the Guardian (at https://www.theguardian.com/business/2017/may/05/hsbc-chairman-douglas-flint-interview-profile-profit-growth-scandal) states that the bank that is ‘too big to manage, too big to fail and too big to jail’, could be instantly solved by 19 pieces of rope each around 15 feet in length (about $175 in total). Yes, some solutions are actually that simple. Yet in all this, how does this go over for those who survived Grenfell? That is the actual issue. Jeremy Corbyn might take advantage on the matter with “failure to rehouse Grenfell Tower survivors a disgrace“, yet if his party had done a lot more between 1990-2010, the disaster might have been less. In this the conservatives have been equally guilty, because after the Iron lady (Thatcher 1979-1990) the housing matter had been going downhill. We see the news on all these over the top events of buildings, investors and places that are impossible to afford, the people end up not having any kind of housing option and that is where the people of Grenfell are. In nowhere land, with nothing to look forward to and no one is picking up the axe to chop down whatever is set against them. Yet HSBC with its $4.6 billion pre-tax profit is up and surging to surpass its $13 billion annual profit and they no longer have to fear further penalties. Yes, the jurisprudential engine is failing the people to the largest degree at present.

So when we look back to September 14th (at http://www.bbc.com/news/uk-41262914), did we get answers? As the investigation did split we get “Sir Martin said the inquiry would be split into two phases – with the first examining how the blaze developed and the second looking at how the building became so exposed to the risk of a major fire.

The fact that the report is still well over three months away does not help. Even as the media focusses on what is happening now (makes perfect sense), the Guardian gives us (at https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2017/dec/11/homeless-because-of-a-tragedy-struggle-to-rehouse-grenfell-survivors-continues), ‘‘Homeless because of a tragedy’: struggle to rehouse Grenfell survivors continues‘, this is truly an issue in these days as we go towards the festive season and there is no real solution for this. The politicians that short changed the need of the people from 1990 onwards is showing to be a centre piece in all this. Yet at http://newlondondevelopment.com/ we see that 1318 projects are in play with the quote “New London Development showcases significant commercial and residential development across London“, yet how much of that falls in the affordable living category? So consider the Battersea Power Station. In May the amount of affordable houses as stated under the initial deal got cut by 40%, there is a larger issues and as councils rubber stamp options for developers as they cry to the song ‘losses in my life!‘, the larger issue is that this might be the most visible one, it is not the only one. In all we do know that a lot of the 1318 projects are commercial and corporate projects, plenty of them are housing and how many others have been slicing affordable houses on the list? In all this the quote “However, the project headed by a Malaysian-led consortium is on course to make profits of £1.8bn” and that is the larger problem, Lord Mayors past and present had done too little to stop councils from proceeding the way they did in regards to the Battersea Power Station. We see this in the quote ““If these numbers are accurate, they seem to suggest that the council have had the wool pulled over their eyes – allowing themselves to be hoodwinked into cutting affordable housing while the developer’s profits remain strong,” Khan told the Observer.” As I personally see it, they treated their ego as it was their penis and played for it slightly too long, instead of getting the guidance they needed. They weren’t hoodwinked, they were merely ego driven and they got played as stupid people tend to get played. That latter part is seen in the quote “the council failed to provide us with this information before deciding to send the application to planning committee for decision“, in my view it shows intent, it shows that they valued their ego above all else and as such they should not be allowed to be in the position that they are in. The fact that they have no short-list of houses for people like those facing the Grenfell issue is further evidence still. This is not new information, these are details that have been known for 5 months, in all this, the Grenfell people are in hotels, or better stated close to 80% of the survivors are. In this the papers give us “from Theresa May’s unachievable commitment, made in the immediate aftermath of the disaster, to get them into new homes within three weeks, to the current promise that everyone will be rehoused within a year“, which might have been realistic, yet with councils catering to developers profit, there is a decent indication that housing them all within a year might not be achievable at all. Yet it could have been worse. Grenfell could have been without victims and 71 additional houses would be needed. Can you imaging the coldness of this statement? This is seen in “There’s something about the language that feels transactional, that feels like the local people are consumers” and that is just the larger issue. The councils have become mere spread sheet users where the budget is the bottom line. From cladding savings to developer catering, the bottom line is profit and the ‘mishap’ called Grenfell towers is not an acceptable situation for any of them, yet for them it is not about the victims, or the aftermath, it is about the spread sheet needing to adjust for houses that are not there, not foreseen and not anticipated. In all this to help these people councils should be less emotional and in that regard the transactional pose might apply or be acceptable to some, yet the hardship cannot be set in some value, it is set in the heart of the matter and that heart is bleeding. Now that we see ‘Human rights commission to launch its own Grenfell fire inquiry‘, we need to ask different questions. You see, I get it, it needs to be done, yet when there are two enquiries and as one is published a lot sooner, will they hinder one another, or more important, will the official investigation get hindered in all this, because that could enrage the population in the UK at large.

Part is seen in the independent (at http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/crime/grenfell-tower-fire-latest-updates-police-manslaughter-misconduct-charges-criminal-hearing-deaths-a8103346.html) where we see a mere 17 hour ago: “Police considering manslaughter, corporate manslaughter and misconduct charges“, which is interesting as I voiced in agreement the term ‘corporate manslaughter‘ (at https://lawlordtobe.com/2017/06/27/betrayed-by-government/) like the Labour Tottenham MP, David Lammy. Yet I went a step further. Is there enough evidence to consider murder? If the evidence shows ‘cutting costs at any expense‘, does that show reckless intent? Can we go from Manslaughter to full scale murder? Would that constitute a larger scale of targeted killings and as such there would be no defence for the accused?

In the end we will see what was and what should have been, yet in all this, the HSBC link should be clear to all ‘too big to manage‘, London housing is beyond normal managing and the 1318 projects in London are further evidence still that a massive overhaul is needed to get a much better view of all of the building and overhaul projects. The coffers are empty and such an overhaul as would be required might be wishful thinking from the current Lord Mayor, the direct simplification of reality is that such changes will take too long and will be too dramatic to be allowed to happen as such. ‘too big to fail‘ shows us that the status quo will be partially maintained and the influx of investors is crucially important and as such proper change is even less likely to happen. Finally there is ‘too big to jail’, in this there is a need to get it done, but in the end will there be enough evidence to allow for serious prison time? That will soon be the matter at hand and as the most senior QC’s in the business will oppose one another in the fine print of the law, we need to realise that this would in the end amount to an institutional failure and as such the likelihood of any of these senior players going to jail is less and less likely. It is within the law and we need to adhere to the law. The played ones become the players to not go to jail. I have no idea if it happens, whether they escape the noose or escape the ridicule, what is a clear given that it could have been settled with one piece of rope per neck. Should we do so, than we would be breaking the law, which is something we do not want to do, but in the end, the most likely outcome is a fine, just like with HSBC, it would be a large one, so the council would try to get some kind of deferred prosecution agreement (DPA), which would be the delay they need to get some kind of expiry date after which no one is held liable or accountable for the entire mess. In the end, whatever fine is paid, is paid from the empty coffers of government. Implying that the next wage freeze for nurses and Emergency Staff, the staff of the London Fire Brigade and the London Metropolitan Police will in the end pay for the stupidity of the local council and Grenfell building management.

I wonder how correct I will be in the end. If I end up being 100% correct, I feel sorry for whomever will have to deal with the rage of the public, because this could still get really ugly over the next 4-5 months.

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