A Limerick A Day


If you have an account on facebook
You should know that some rogues took a look
At all of your facts
And engaged in bad acts
To be honest, I am a bit shook

John Moynes

Pic: Reuters

49 thoughts on “A Limerick A Day

    1. realPolithicks

      40 million dollars is a drop in the ocean to this multi billionaire in fairness. Having said that the “insider trading” laws here in the US are pretty strong and they particularly like to nail someone with a high public profile, so if there is a whiff of it you can be sure someone will be looking into it.

  1. Andrew

    How many people on this site have Facebook accounts? Just curious.
    I did have one but deleted it a few years ago now.
    I wonder will many now do the same?

    1. mildred st. meadowlark

      Proud to say I haven’t had one in almost eight years.

      Stick it to the MAN, man.

      1. The Old Boy

        I’d have to agree with Rotide on this – Anyone who didn’t think that this sort of data analysis was going on at this stage was practically willfully ignorant.

        If you are interested and concerned about the use of the data you supply to Facebook then you won’t have used in in years. Personally, I am satisfied that the data they hold on me is utterly benign.

      2. some old queen

        Why assume it is just Facebook? Apply face recognition software to something like snapchat and you have a whole new world of people linked together.

      3. spudnick

        I was dimly aware of the whole Friends API thing but never really thought about it closely. Of course now it looks terrible – part of the deal of a friend of yours allowing an app access to their profile also allows that app access to yours too, and not just the public stuff. But it was always there in black and white, just not spelled out too obviously.

        FB shut it down sometime in 2015, but by then it was too late to stop CA’s wholesale hoovering. So, unless you’ve radically changed your views since then, it’s probably also too late for deleting your account to be of any use in this case.

        What other cases are there though? It’s easy after the fact to say, ‘oh, it was obvious that data would be misused that way.’ FB still holds a lot of data on you, and has a third-party developer API. People a lot smarter than me are going to figure out ways, legitimate and illegitimate, to get at that data.

        And, just to add, just because you think data you’ve supplied is benign doesn’t necessarily make it so. Data science is startlingly clever at examining in the aggregate and in terms of links to come up with new information. I’ve been amazed more than once at targeted ads, even to the point that I’ve suspected my phone’s microphone of passively listening in.

        1. Clampers Outside!

          What freaks me out is having a conversation with someone face to face and then surfing the web, not typing in any words related to that conversation, and then seeing ads specific to that conversation.
          I thought I was having a memory lapse the first time it happened, but the second and thied time….

        2. The Old Boy

          I would certainly agree that the algorithmic analyses used are startlingly good at making predictions. Personally, I take steps to mitigate it: supplying the bare minimum of data, using false data where possible, not allowing geo-location in posts, not liking pages, copying links rather than clicking through etc.

          I’m sure many people will think that’s slightly overboard to avoid what amounts to selling advertising that’s much better targeted then what you see on the television or when you open the paper.

          Several of my colleagues who are a great deal more expert in the field of data protection than I have said that we are quickly reaching such a crisis with regard to protecting personal data that the current issues with Facebook are going to look like amateur hour compared with what is likely to emerge in terms of the great plethora of entities engaged in scraping, compiling, trading and analysing data.

          1. some old queen

            From that twitter thread: The internet was only free and data was only safe so long as there was ignorance of its power.

      4. Andrew

        I agree, that none of this should be news to anyone. I got rid of mine because I found my ‘friends’ became more irritating.

  2. qwerty123

    You know Facebook are screwed in the west when people are bragging they don’t have an account. The only growth market for them is India/China at this stage. A bit like cigarettes.

    1. The Old Boy

      At least Wills, Players et al got the best part of a century out of western growth markets before the business went elsewhere.

      Saturation and increasingly precipitous decline in the space of about ten years must be a worrying business model for long-term investors.

  3. some old queen

    Facebook was hooked
    By a bunch of old crooks
    With hookers and spies
    And from stolen data they told lies
    To influence a vote
    And the Brits took the boat
    And then there was Trump
    Who now smells like a good dump.

    Serious point here. While they may have deleted the original data, the inferred results will still remain. There is no way they can remove all of that without wiping their entire systems and even then, forensics will have a good shot at rebuilding most of it.

    A combination of AI, politics and espionage, far fetched even as facts. I love it.

    1. Clampers Outside!

      Do you still think CA were responsible for the confidence of the DNC, and the media like CNN, MSN, etc, that Hillary would win?
      Seems a stretch, and seems odd considering the claim is that the ads used were ‘fear’ based, and were more about negative ads targeting Hillary…. not sure how that would give them ‘hype’ to believe they were on a winner, in fairness.

      1. some old queen

        Trump won the election but he did not win the majority. We do know they crunched the numbers and targeted specific demographics in specific states. I am not a psychologist but I wouldn’t expect all the adds or even most were fear based because they would only motivate a neurotic type of personality. I don’t know what the other types identified yet but it will be interesting to see.

        We obviously don’t know the full story yet, or near it, but there is some credence in the suggestion that instead of movitaing some to vote, that they encouraged others not to vote. In this case people who would have leaned Dem, which have the same outcome. Very clever stuff.

        Personally, I am more interested in how they did the actual profiling because that was very new.

        1. Clampers Outside!

          On the hype bit, I think we should just agree that we differ on that.

          On the targeting, it’s not that new. I think yer man’s algorithm may have been quite unique, but psychometrics in digital advertising have been practiced and discussed for quite a few years.
          I believe it is also to his own benefit for him to talk up how accurate his algorithm was, but as an ad man of 20+ years, I’ve heard claims like that before. I don’t, personally, think it was some golden brilliance of a unique achievement to do what he did to be honest… but that’s just my opinion.

          1. some old queen

            Well it boils down to the profiling. This outfit operated more like a state intelligence agency than an advertising company. I mean, when was the last time you hired a couple of hookers to blackmail a client? Quite a while ago I expect.

            You may right in that the technology was already there but they also had full quota of psychologists on the case and, we can only assume, they had data no one else had.

            As for how effective it has all been, that is near impossible to tell because there are so many other variables. But, what it does prove is how damaging this sort of thing can be to a brand and Facebook are now in for an absolute hammering.

          2. Clampers Outside!

            All the big international ad agencies have psychologists / behavioural scientists. Look up Gad Saad who has been working in that area for advertiser agencies for decades.

            I’m with you on the blackmail and other stuff.

          1. some old queen

            The one thing most commentators seem to agree did have an effect on the election was voter suppression. In some way or another, persuading people not to vote.

        2. bisted

          …agree…very clever stuff using publically available information…trouble is, the bad guys always seem a step ahead…

  4. Lilly

    I’ve never been a fan of FB. I set up an account with a Minnie Mouse-type name way back when it started to see how it worked and the fact that it was next-to-impossible to delete told me all I needed to know.

  5. Andrew

    I wonder too if this is being overblown by traditional media to get the boot in to online media?
    I think most people are more than aware of what data they are consenting to share when signing up for certain apps It’s not particularly a revelation?
    On the election thing, would these types of ads really sway people to vote one way or another?
    Apart from that, I thought it was the Russians that rigged the US election and Brexit?
    So are they in the clear now? It’s not reds under the bed after all?

    1. Nigel

      Well, no, it turns out that not only were the Russians probably going mad with their fake news and fake accounts all over social media – and the Trump campaign may or may not have been colluding with them to some extent, that remains to be seen – but the Trump campaign itself was engaged in its own dodgy online activity using data obtained illegally by CA from Facebook. It’s not either/or, though there’s an investigation ongoing into to what extent it was ‘and.’

      The effectiveness of it all is on dispute, obviously, but there were enough swing states that were close enough for even a small effect to be significant in the overall outcome. This is important, not for reasons of refighting the Trump/Clinton election, but to try to have some idea of what’s going on in future elections. We’ve got a referendum of our own coming up with right-wing religious-types in the US taking an interest, after all.

  6. Junkface

    Facebook won’t be going anywhere. It’s the perfect vehicle for people’s vanity. Its Opium for the masses more so than religion now. More and more cases like Cambridge Analytics will come out over the years as humanity loses control of its personal data laws, while introducing Artificial Intelligence and automation. I don’t know how Governments are going to reign in all of these tech companies with their 25 page terms and conditions in law speak that nobody reads. This is one of the first things to fix. Agreements should be on one or two pages in bullet points

    1. Nigel

      It also provides an easy and convenient way for friends and family to stay in touch and communicate in a casual fashion and that, more than anything else, is what will keep it going. Vain people will drift off to the next new thing and religious types will follow the crowd. For everyone else, Facebook is the internet, Facebook is how they stay in touch with people they would otherwise rarely otherwise get to see or talk to. To leave Facebook would be to cut themselves off from networks that have become an everyday fact of life and something of a blessing. Sneering at these people or devaluing the service Facebook provides does nothing for anyone, it certainly doesn’t solve any of the massive problems it poses.

      1. Martco

        Personal no.
        Business yes. Definitely yes.

        no doubt that Friendface is popular but I don’t think it’s as ubiquitous as you think…I do know loads of people who reject it outright for personal use.

        In my own case I’ve never had a personal account much in the same way & reasons I’ve never owned supermarket clubcard….to be fair I benefit from having had a direct involvement in processing infrastructure, I know what mining is. I guess we were taught differently though, it was a badge of honour to maintain as close to zero internet footprint as possible. But plenty who are not IT savvy know how to use a telephone, arrange meets in pubs & other social scenarios & don’t need electronic assistance to achieve that. Everyone is different I know…I just don’t feel the need to broadcast/advertise myself & family details online & have never understood that aspect of people.
        I DO absolutely however use Friendface, Chitter, Insta & Snapshite for business purposes.

  7. GiggidyGoo

    Never had a FB account and never will. The Pied Piper of the internet. The work of the devil

  8. Matt Lucozade: The Only Reader of the Village


    Facebook’s Surveillance Machine

    “This wasn’t informed consent. This was the exploitation of user data and user trust.”

    “If Facebook failed to understand that this data could be used in dangerous ways, that it shouldn’t have let anyone harvest data in this manner and that a third-party ticking a box on a form wouldn’t free the company from responsibility, it had no business collecting anyone’s data in the first place. But the vast infrastructure Facebook has built to obtain data, and its consequent half-a-trillion-dollar market capitalization, suggest that the company knows all too well the value of this kind of vast data surveillance.”

    “A business model based on vast data surveillance and charging clients to opaquely target users based on this kind of extensive profiling will inevitably be misused.”

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