Spitfire List Web site and blog of anti-fascist researcher and radio personality Dave Emory.
The tag 'Cambridge Analytica' is associated with 3 posts.

FTR #1021 FascisBook: (In Your Facebook, Part 3–A Virtual Panopticon, Part 3)

This program follows up FTR #’s 718 and 946, we examined Facebook, noting how it’s cute, warm, friendly public facade obscured a cynical, reactionary, exploitative and, ultimately “corporatist” ethic and operation.

The UK’s Channel 4 sent an investigative journalist undercover to work for one of the third-party companies Facebook pays to moderate content. This investigative journalist was trained to take a hands-off approach to far right violent content and fake news because that kind of content engages users for longer and increases ad revenues. ” . . . . An investigative journalist who went undercover as a Facebook moderator in Ireland says the company lets pages from far-right fringe groups ‘exceed deletion threshold,’ and that those pages are ‘subject to different treatment in the same category as pages belonging to governments and news organizations.’ The accusation is a damning one, undermining Facebook’s claims that it is actively trying to cut down on fake news, propaganda, hate speech, and other harmful content that may have significant real-world impact.The undercover journalist detailed his findings in a new documentary titled Inside Facebook: Secrets of the Social Network, that just aired on the UK’s Channel 4. . . . .”

Next, we present a frightening story about AggregateIQ (AIQ), the Cambridge Analytica offshoot to which Cambridge Analytica outsourced the development of its “Ripon” psychological profile software development, and which later played a key role in the pro-Brexit campaign. The article also notes that, despite Facebook’s pledge to kick Cambridge Analytica off of its platform, security researchers just found 13 apps available for Facebook that appear to be developed by AIQ. If Facebook really was trying to kick Cambridge Analytica off of its platform, it’s not trying very hard. One app is even named “AIQ Johnny Scraper” and it’s registered to AIQ.

The article is also a reminder that you don’t necessarily need to download a Cambridge Analytica/AIQ app for them to be tracking your information and reselling it to clients. Security researcher stumbled upon a new repository of curated Facebook data AIQ was creating for a client and it’s entirely possible a lot of the data was scraped from public Facebook posts.

” . . . . AggregateIQ, a Canadian consultancy alleged to have links to Cambridge Analytica, collected and stored the data of hundreds of thousands of Facebook users, according to redacted computer files seen by the Financial Times.The social network banned AggregateIQ, a data company, from its platform as part of a clean-up operation following the Cambridge Analytica scandal, on suspicion that the company could have been improperly accessing user information. However, Chris Vickery, a security researcher, this week found an app on the platform called ‘AIQ Johnny Scraper’ registered to the company, raising fresh questions about the effectiveness of Facebook’s policing efforts. . . .”

In addition, the story highlights a forms of micro-targeting companies like AIQ make available that’s fundamentally different from the algorithmic micro-targeting associated with social media abuses: micro-targeting by a human who wants to specifically look and see what you personally have said about various topics on social media. This is a service where someone can type you into a search engine and AIQ’s product will serve up a list of all the various political posts you’ve made or the politically-relevant “Likes” you’ve made.

Next, we note that Facebook is getting sued by an app developer for acting like the mafia and turning access to all that user data as the key enforcement tool:

“Mark Zuckerberg faces allegations that he developed a ‘malicious and fraudulent scheme’ to exploit vast amounts of private data to earn Facebook billions and force rivals out of business. A company suing Facebook in a California court claims the social network’s chief executive ‘weaponised’ the ability to access data from any user’s network of friends – the feature at the heart of the Cambridge Analytica scandal.  . . . . ‘The evidence uncovered by plaintiff demonstrates that the Cambridge Analytica scandal was not the result of mere negligence on Facebook’s part but was rather the direct consequence of the malicious and fraudulent scheme Zuckerberg designed in 2012 to cover up his failure to anticipate the world’s transition to smartphones,’ legal documents said. . . . . Six4Three alleges up to 40,000 companies were effectively defrauded in this way by Facebook. It also alleges that senior executives including Zuckerberg personally devised and managed the scheme, individually deciding which companies would be cut off from data or allowed preferential access. . . . ‘They felt that it was better not to know. I found that utterly horrifying,’ he [former Facebook executive Sandy Parakilas] said. ‘If true, these allegations show a huge betrayal of users, partners and regulators. They would also show Facebook using its monopoly power to kill competition and putting profits over protecting its users.’ . . . .”

The above-mentioned Cambridge Analytica is officially going bankrupt, along with the elections division of its parent company, SCL Group. Apparently their bad press has driven away clients.

Is this truly the end of Cambridge Analytica?

No.

They’re rebranding under a new company, Emerdata. Intriguingly, Cambridge Analytica’s transformation into Emerdata is noteworthy because  the firm’s directors include Johnson Ko Chun Shun, a Hong Kong financier and business partner of Erik Prince: ” . . . . But the company’s announcement left several questions unanswered, including who would retain the company’s intellectual property — the so-called psychographic voter profiles built in part with data from Facebook — and whether Cambridge Analytica’s data-mining business would return under new auspices. . . . In recent months, executives at Cambridge Analytica and SCL Group, along with the Mercer family, have moved to created a new firm, Emerdata, based in Britain, according to British records. The new company’s directors include Johnson Ko Chun Shun, a Hong Kong financier and business partner of Erik Prince. . . . An executive and a part owner of SCL Group, Nigel Oakes, has publicly described Emerdata as a way of rolling up the two companies under one new banner. . . . ”

In the Big Data internet age, there’s one area of personal information that has yet to be incorporated into the profiles on everyone–personal banking information.  ” . . . . If tech companies are in control of payment systems, they’ll know “every single thing you do,” Kapito said. It’s a different business model from traditional banking: Data is more valuable for tech firms that sell a range of different products than it is for banks that only sell financial services, he said. . . .”

Facebook is approaching a number of big banks – JP Morgan, Wells Fargo, Citigroup, and US Bancorp – requesting financial data including card transactions and checking-account balances. Facebook is joined byIn this by Google and Amazon who are also trying to get this kind of data.

Facebook assures us that this information, which will be opt-in, is to be solely for offering new services on Facebook messenger. Facebook also assures us that this information, which would obviously be invaluable for delivering ads, won’t be used for ads at all. It will ONLY be used for Facebook’s Messenger service.  This is a dubious assurance, in light of Facebook’s past behavior.

” . . . . Facebook increasingly wants to be a platform where people buy and sell goods and services, besides connecting with friends. The company over the past year asked JPMorgan Chase & Co., Wells Fargo & Co., Citigroup Inc. and U.S. Bancorp to discuss potential offerings it could host for bank customers on Facebook Messenger, said people familiar with the matter. Facebook has talked about a feature that would show its users their checking-account balances, the people said. It has also pitched fraud alerts, some of the people said. . . .”

Peter Thiel’s surveillance firm Palantir was apparently deeply involved with Cambridge Analytica’s gaming of personal data harvested from Facebook in order to engineer an electoral victory for Trump. Thiel was an early investor in Facebook, at one point was its largest shareholder and is still one of its largest shareholders. ” . . . . It was a Palantir employee in London, working closely with the data scientists building Cambridge’s psychological profiling technology, who suggested the scientists create their own app — a mobile-phone-based personality quiz — to gain access to Facebook users’ friend networks, according to documents obtained by The New York Times. The revelations pulled Palantir — co-founded by the wealthy libertarian Peter Thiel — into the furor surrounding Cambridge, which improperly obtained Facebook data to build analytical tools it deployed on behalf of Donald J. Trump and other Republican candidates in 2016. Mr. Thiel, a supporter of President Trump, serves on the board at Facebook. ‘There were senior Palantir employees that were also working on the Facebook data,’ said Christopher Wylie, a data expert and Cambridge Analytica co-founder, in testimony before British lawmakers on Tuesday. . . . The connections between Palantir and Cambridge Analytica were thrust into the spotlight by Mr. Wylie’s testimony on Tuesday. Both companies are linked to tech-driven billionaires who backed Mr. Trump’s campaign: Cambridge is chiefly owned by Robert Mercer, the computer scientist and hedge fund magnate, while Palantir was co-founded in 2003 by Mr. Thiel, who was an initial investor in Facebook. . . .”

Program Highlights Include:

1.–Facebook’s project to incorporate brain-to-computer interface into its operating system: ” . . . Facebook wants to build its own “brain-to-computer interface” that would allow us to send thoughts straight to a computer. ‘What if you could type directly from your brain?’ Regina Dugan, the head of the company’s secretive hardware R&D division, Building 8, asked from the stage. Dugan then proceeded to show a video demo of a woman typing eight words per minute directly from the stage. In a few years, she said, the team hopes to demonstrate a real-time silent speech system capable of delivering a hundred words per minute. ‘That’s five times faster than you can type on your smartphone, and it’s straight from your brain,’ she said. ‘Your brain activity contains more information than what a word sounds like and how it’s spelled; it also contains semantic information of what those words mean.’ . . .”
2.–” . . . . Brain-computer interfaces are nothing new. DARPA, which Dugan used to head, has invested heavily in brain-computer interface technologies to do things like cure mental illness and restore memories to soldiers injured in war. But what Facebook is proposing is perhaps more radical—a world in which social media doesn’t require picking up a phone or tapping a wrist watch in order to communicate with your friends; a world where we’re connected all the time by thought alone. . . .”
3.–” . . . . Facebook’s Building 8 is modeled after DARPA and its projects tend to be equally ambitious. . . .”
4.–” . . . . But what Facebook is proposing is perhaps more radical—a world in which social media doesn’t require picking up a phone or tapping a wrist watch in order to communicate with your friends; a world where we’re connected all the time by thought alone. . . .”
5.–” . . . . Facebook hopes to use optical neural imaging technology to scan the brain 100 times per second to detect thoughts and turn them into text. Meanwhile, it’s working on ‘skin-hearing’ that could translate sounds into haptic feedback that people can learn to understand like braille. . . .”
6.–” . . . . Worryingly, Dugan eventually appeared frustrated in response to my inquiries about how her team thinks about safety precautions for brain interfaces, saying, ‘The flip side of the question that you’re asking is ‘why invent it at all?’ and I just believe that the optimistic perspective is that on balance, technological advances have really meant good things for the world if they’re handled responsibly.’ . . . .”
7.–Some telling observations by Nigel Oakes, the founder of Cambridge Analytica parent firm SCL: ” . . . . . . . . The panel has published audio records in which an executive tied to Cambridge Analytica discusses how the Trump campaign used techniques used by the Nazis to target voters. . . .”
8.–Further exposition of Oakes’ statement: ” . . . . Adolf Hitler ‘didn’t have a problem with the Jews at all, but people didn’t like the Jews,’ he told the academic, Emma L. Briant, a senior lecturer in journalism at the University of Essex. He went on to say that Donald J. Trump had done the same thing by tapping into grievances toward immigrants and Muslims. . . . ‘What happened with Trump, you can forget all the microtargeting and microdata and whatever, and come back to some very, very simple things,’ he told Dr. Briant. ‘Trump had the balls, and I mean, really the balls, to say what people wanted to hear.’ . . .”
9.–Observations about the possibilities of Facebook’s goal of having AI governing the editorial functions of its content: As noted in a Popular Mechanics article: ” . . . When the next pow­er­ful AI comes along, it will see its first look at the world by look­ing at our faces. And if we stare it in the eyes and shout ‘we’re AWFUL lol,’ the lol might be the one part it doesn’t understand. . . .”
10.–Microsoft’s Tay Chatbot offers a glimpse into this future: As one Twitter user noted, employing sarcasm: “Tay went from ‘humans are super cool’ to full nazi in <24 hrs and I’m not at all concerned about the future of AI.”


FTR #1017 Supreme Court Trump Card: Family Trump, Family [Anthony] Kennedy and Peter Thiel

 Much has been said about Donald Trump’s nomination of Judge Brett Kavanaugh to become a Supreme Court justice, replacing Anthony Kennnedy.

In this program, we highlight extensive networking between the Trump and Kennedy families and, in turn, some apparent “deep networking” between some of the individuals in the Trump/Kennedy nexus and institutions linked to key elements of the remarkable and deadly Bormann flight capital network.

Deutsche Bank and the shadow of the I.G. Farben chemical complex figure into the latter part of this equation.

The connections between the family of Anthony Kennedy and the Trump milieu run deep. Anthony Kennedy’s son Justin was  Trump’s  banker at Deutsche Bank. In FTR #919, we analyzed a New York Times article highlighting Donald Trump’s altogether opaque real estate developments and evidence that those projects had significant links to elements of the Bormann capital network.

In that program we set forth the primary role of Deutsche Bank in financing Trump’s real estate projects.

” . . . While many big banks have shunned him, Deutsche Bank AG has been a steadfast financial backer of the Republican presidential candidate’s business interests. Since 1998, the bank has led or participated in loans of at least $2.5 billion to companies affiliated with Mr. Trump, according to a Wall Street Journal analysis of public records and people familiar with the matter. That doesn’t include at least another $1 billion in loan commitments that Deutsche Bank made to Trump-affiliated entities. The long-standing connection makes Frankfurt-based Deutsche Bank, which has a large U.S. operation and has been grappling with reputational problems and an almost 50% stock-price decline, the financial institution with probably the strongest ties to the controversial New York businessman. . . .”

The fact that Deutsche Bank is the primary financial backer of “Trump Incorporated” is of primary importance. The bank is central to the Bormann capital network.

The connections between the family of Anthony Kennedy and the Trump milieu run deep. Anthony Kennedy’s son Justin was  Trump’s  banker at Deutsche Bank.

Furthermore, jurists who clerked for Anthony Kennedy figure prominently in Trump’s judicial appointments:

1.–” . . . . He [Trump] picked Justice Neil M. Gorsuch, who had served as a law clerk to Justice Kennedy, to fill Justice Scalia’s seat. . . .”
2.–” . . . . Then, after Justice Gorsuch’s nomination was announced, a White House official singled out two candidates for the next Supreme Court vacancy: Judge Brett M. Kavanaugh of the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit and Judge Raymond M. Kethledge of the United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit, in Cincinnati. The two judges had something in common: They had both clerked for Justice Kennedy. . . .”
3.–” . . . . In the meantime, as the White House turned to stocking the lower courts, it did not overlook Justice Kennedy’s clerks. Mr. Trump nominated three of them to federal appeals courts: Judges Stephanos Bibas and Michael Scudder, both of whom have been confirmed, and Eric Murphy, the Ohio solicitor general, whom Mr. Trump nominated to the Sixth Circuit this month. . . .”
4.–” . . . . Justice Kennedy’s son, Justin . . . . spent more than a decade at Deutsche Bank, eventually rising to become the bank’s global head of real estate capital markets, and he worked closely with Mr. Trump when he was a real estate developer, according to two people with knowledge of his role. During Mr. Kennedy’s tenure, Deutsche Bank became Mr. Trump’s most important lender, dispensing well over $1 billion in loans to him for the renovation and construction of skyscrapers in New York and Chicago at a time other mainstream banks were wary of doing business with him because of his troubled business history. . . .”

After Kennedy left Deutsche Bank in 2009 he went on to become co-CEO LNR Property LLC. LNR Property saved Jared Kushner’s midtown Manhattan property in 2011:

1.–” . . . . from 2010–2013 Justin Kennedy was the co-CEO of LNR Property LLC with Tobin Cobb. . . .”
2.–” . . . . According the New York Times, in 2007 Kushner Companies purchased ‘an aluminum-clad office tower in Midtown Manhattan, for a record price of $1.8 billion.’ At the time the NYT wrote that this deal was ‘considered a classic example of reckless underwriting. The transaction was so highly leveraged that the cash flow from rents amounted to only 65 percent of the debt service.’ . . .”
3.– ” . . . Who came to the rescue? None other than LNR Property, the company whose CEO at the time was Justin Kennedy. According to the NYT and the Real Deal, Mr. Kushner and LNR ‘reached a possible agreement with LNR Property, a firm specializing in restructuring troubled debt and which oversees the mortgage, that would allow him to retain control of the tower by modifying the terms of the $1.2 billion mortgage tied to the office portion of the building.’ . . .”

The links between TrumpWorld and Anthony Kennedy’s sons is deeper still. Kennedy’s other son Gregory, has long-standing ties to Trump Silicon Valley adviser Peter Thiel, whom we first analyzed in FTR #718.

” . . . . . . . . Kennedy’s seat, meantime, seemed destined to go to Kavanaugh, thanks in part to the glowing review of Kennedy, whose son, Justin, knows Donald Trump Jr. through New York real estate circles, and whose other adult child has connections to Trump World via the president’s 2016 Silicon Valley adviser Peter Thiel, most recently when the Kennedy firm Disruptive Technology Advisers worked with Thiel’s Palantir Technologies. . . .”

Gregory Kennedy’s DTA has an unusually close relationship with Palantir, a company that has helped the Trump administration.

Kennedy’s DTA has other personal connections to Palantir. Alex Fishman and Alex Davis, two other DTA founders, “enjoyed a very close relationship” with Palantir co-founder Alex Karp, according to the lawsuit.

It should be noted that the alleged secrecy with which Palantir treats its operating and investing information is characteristic of Bormann organizations. A closeted, insiders-only operating ethic serves the need for this consummately powerful organization to maintain a relatively low profile, even as it gains power, influence and wealth.

” . . . . Yet Palantir — whose stock changes hands only through private trades — goes to great lengths to keep any detailed information about its business private. . . .”

A lawsuit by Palantir investor KT4 Partners alleges that Palantir is illegally blocking investors from selling shares in the company and that Kennedy’s Disruptive Technology Advisors (DTA) is a key partner and beneficiary of this strategy.

KT4 claims that when it tried to sell its shares of Palantir to a third-party, Palantir would have DTA contact the third-party and convince them to have Palantir sells them the shares directly instead. DTA would then collect a commission.

The central dynamic in the allegations of plaintiff (and Palantir investor) KT4 is set forth as follows: ” . . . . But remarkably, KT4 claims that when Palantir receives information from an investor about a planned sale, it uses that information to contact the buyer and persuade them instead to buy shares directly from the company or from certain Palantir insiders. One particular broker, Disruptive Technology Advisers, or DTA, repeatedly gets commissions from these sales, even when it ‘performed no legitimate work,’ KT4 claims. KT4 says it experienced interference by Palantir when it tried to sell shares to Highbridge Capital Management, a hedge fund that was owned by JPMorgan Chase, in May 2015. After KT4 notified Palantir of the planned sale, Palantir turned around and instructed DTA to ‘take the opportunity, on Palantir’s behalf,’and arrange a sale from Palantir to Highbridge instead, according to the lawsuit. . . .”

In FTR #946, we examined Cambridge Analytica, its Trump and Steve Bannon-linked tech firm that harvested Facebook data on behalf of the Trump campaign.

Peter Thiel’s Palantir was apparently deeply involved with Cambridge Analytica’s gaming of personal data harvested from Facebook in order to engineer an electoral victory for Trump, setting the GOP campaign to control the Supreme Court in a deeper, broader context.

Thiel was an early investor in Facebook, at one point was its largest shareholder and is still one of its largest shareholders. ” . . . . It was a Palantir employee in London, working closely with the data scientists building Cambridge’s psychological profiling technology, who suggested the scientists create their own app — a mobile-phone-based personality quiz — to gain access to Facebook users’ friend networks, according to documents obtained by The New York Times. The revelations pulled Palantir — co-founded by the wealthy libertarian Peter Thiel — into the furor surrounding Cambridge, which improperly obtained Facebook data to build analytical tools it deployed on behalf of Donald J. Trump and other Republican candidates in 2016. Mr. Thiel, a supporter of President Trump, serves on the board at Facebook. ‘There were senior Palantir employees that were also working on the Facebook data,’ said Christopher Wylie, a data expert and Cambridge Analytica co-founder, in testimony before British lawmakers on Tuesday. . . . The connections between Palantir and Cambridge Analytica were thrust into the spotlight by Mr. Wylie’s testimony on Tuesday. Both companies are linked to tech-driven billionaires who backed Mr. Trump’s campaign: Cambridge is chiefly owned by Robert Mercer, the computer scientist and hedge fund magnate, while Palantir was co-founded in 2003 by Mr. Thiel, who was an initial investor in Facebook. . . .”

Program Highlights Include:

1.–Review of Peter Thiel’s high regard for Carl Schmitt: “. . . . a Nazi and the Third Reich’s preeminent legal theorist. For Thiel, Schmitt is an inspiring throwback to a pre-Enlightenment age, who exalts struggle and insists that the discovery of enemies is the foundation of politics. . .” 
2.–Review of Peter Thiel’s early legal experience with Sullivan & Cromwell, the Dulles law firm.
3.–A recounting of the role of John Foster Dulles and Sullivan & Cromwell’s roles in the formation of I.G. Farben.
4.–Review of Thiel’s German heritage and his father’s probable role with one of the I.G. successor companies.


The Cambridge Analytica Microcosm in Our Panoptic Macrocosm

Let the Great Unfriending Commence! Specifically, the mass unfriending of Facebook, which would be a well deserved unfriending after the scandalous revelations in a recent series of articles centered around the claims of Christopher Wylie, a Cambridge Analytica whistle-blower who helped found the firm and worked there until late 2014 until he and others grew increasingly uncomfortable with the far right goals and questionable actions of the firm. And those questionable actions by Cambridge involve a larger and more scandalous Facebook policy brought forth by a Facbook whistle-blower, Sandy Parakilas: Facebook was handing out exactly the kind of data collected by Cambridge Analytica to all sorts of app developers for years. Beyond that, it appears that Facebook really did have an exceptionally close relationship with Cambridge Analytica’s research partner and was only bothered by its data collection when the media got wind of it. It also looks like Steve Bannon was overseeing this entire process, although he claims to know nothing. Oh, and Palantir appears to have had an informal relationship with Cambridge Analytica this whole time. And this state of affairs is an extension of how the internet has been used from its very conception a half century ago. And that’s all part of why the Great Unfriending of Facebook really is long overdue, along with a lot of other reforms.