Breaking, Literally: Cambridge Analytica Skitters Away


Cambridge Analytica, a political consultancy that worked for the Trump campaign and had come under attack for its use of personal Facebook data in other elections, announced on Wednesday it would cease operations and declare bankruptcy in the United States and United Kingdom.

The firm said it had lost clients because of revelations in March that it had improperly obtained the personal information of millions of Facebook users. “It is no longer viable to continue operating the business,” Cambridge Analytica said in a statement.

Cambridge Analytica defended its use of Facebook, saying it was “vilified for activities that are not only legal, but also widely accepted as a standard component of online advertising in both the political and commercial arenas.”

The decision by the firm comes as it continues to face potential investigations and sanctions from regulators around the world for charges…

Cambridge Analytica was born of as an American offshoot of London-based SCL Group, whose affiliates had worked in campaigns around the world, including Kenya, Nigeria and India. Initial funding for Cambridge Analytica came from Republican financier Robert Mercer, who invested at least $10 million in the company as it sought to help exclusively GOP candidates across a range of U.S. congressional and state legislative elections beginning in 2014. His daughter Rebekah Mercer was the company’s president for a time. Neither Mercer responded to requests for comment on Wednesday…

Even as it maintained its innocence, Cambridge Analytica acknowledged that the “siege of media coverage has driven away virtually all of the Company’s customers and suppliers.” SCL Elections, its parent, as well as Cambridge Analytica began insolvency proceedings in the UK, and said they would soon start bankruptcy proceedings in the United States.

IOKIYAR Open Thread: Insecure Man Communicates Insecurely

Don’t worry, it’ll be a VERY SERIOUS IMPEACHABLE OFFENSE again once there’s a Democrat in the Oval Office! (Assuming we all live through the current occupancy, that is… )

Open Thread: All the Privacy You Can Buy, Citizen!

(Reminder: Schooley writes cartoon shows for a living. Yes, it’s a joke!)

Now, *this* is depressing: Tim Cook is happy to tell us that privacy — like clean water, decent health care, education, and so many other valuable commodities — is just another luxury good…

Speaking at a town hall event hosted by MSNBC’s Chris Hayes and Recode’s Kara Swisher, Cook said Facebook put profits above all else when it allegedly allowed user data to be taken through connected apps. The event is part of MSNBC’s “Revolution” series.

When asked what he would do if he were in Zuckerberg’s position, Cook replied: “What would I do? I wouldn’t be in this situation.”

“The truth is we could make a ton of money if we monetized our customer, if our customer was our product,” Cook said. “We’ve elected not to do that.”…

Of course, Apple’s already made such ‘tons of money’ selling to “discerning” customers that its biggest problem is not drawing undue attention from government authorities, so Mr. Cook can afford to look down his nose at penny-an-ad barrel-scrapers like Zuckerberg…

Wednesday Morning Open Thread: FaceBorked

(Drew Sheneman via

I considered using the subtitle “Evil Is Overdetermined”. Here’s a roundup of the latest thumbnails ICYMA (In Case You Missed Any… )

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Russiagate Open Thread: Today’s Cambridge Analytica / Facebook Thumbnails

All this… seems significant. You more technologically adept people want to explain why it is or isn’t?

Mild Disappointments Open Thread: Rod Rosenstein & the Persian Menace

Of course, foreign espionage agents are always very bad news. But after Thursday’s press release, I can’t have been the only person hoping/fearing for a less… anodyne announcement:

The Trump administration on Friday announced sanctions and criminal indictments against an Iranian hacker network it said was involved in “one of the largest state-sponsored hacking campaigns” ever prosecuted by the United States, targeting hundreds of U.S. and foreign universities, as well as dozens of U.S. companies and government agencies, and the United Nations.

None of the alleged hackers were direct employees of the Iranian government, but all worked at the behest of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), officials said. While not the first such punishments imposed on Iran for such malicious acts, the new measures address more extensive Iranian efforts than previously alleged.

Nine of 10 named individuals were connected to the Mabna Institute, a Shiraz-based tech firm that the Justice Department alleged hacks on behalf of Iranian universities and the IRGC. The institute conducted “massive, coordinated intrusions” into the computer systems of at least 144 U.S. universities and 176 foreign universities in 21 countries, including Britain and Canada, officials said.

The hackers stole more than 31 terabytes of data and intellectual property — the rough equivalent of three Libraries of Congress — from their victims, prosecutors alleged. Much of it ended up in the hands of the IRGC, which has frequently been accused of stealing information to further its own research and development of weaponry. The Guard Corps is the division of Iran’s security forces charged with overseeing Iranian proxy forces abroad and is under the direct control of the country’s religious leaders…

The Trump Regency has gotten us into a very weird mindspace. Under normal circumstances, would one’s first thought be “Yes, yes, Mr. Bolton — those crafty Iranian terrorists, and their mad mullahs, always looking to DESTROY THE GREAT SATAN… “

Unintentionally (?) perfect coda:

… Also sanctioned was Behzad Mesri, who U.S. prosecutors announced last November had been indicted on a charge related to the hacking of HBO and theft of unaired episodes of programs including “Game of Thrones,” which the hacker threatened to release unless he was paid $6 million….

Open Thread: Unplugging from FaceBorg, or Changing Your Settings?

Not a FaceBook user myself, because my brain chemistry already compels me to waste too much time trying to get to the end of the internet (and, yes, I’ve been fortunate that I haven’t ‘needed’ to set up an account for my job or my social life). So I can’t test Mr. Fallows’ advice here, but I figured it might be useful…

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