Observer Admits Cadwalladr’s Cambridge Analytica / AIQ Conspiracy Theory is Wrong

A humiliating correction for Carole Cadwalladr in today’s Observer as her conspiracy theory that Cambridge Analytica, AggregateIQ and Vote Leave were all working together falls apart:

In two news articles last week (“Revealed: the ties that bound Canadian data firm to Leave campaign in referendum” and “Brexit insider claims Vote Leave team ‘may have broken law’”), we are happy to clarify that we did not intend to suggest that AggregateIQ is a direct part and/or the Canadian branch of Cambridge Analytica, or that it has been involved in the exploitation of Facebook data, or otherwise been involved in any of the alleged wrongdoing made against Cambridge Analytica. Further, we did not intend to suggest that AIQ secretly and unethically co-ordinated with Cambridge Analytica on the EU referendum. We are happy to make clear that AggregateIQ is and has always been 100% Canadian owned and operated.

This was one of the central pieces of the story published by Cadwalladr – who has won a British Journalism Award for her nonsense – and her source Chris Wylie. Even ultra-Remainers who Guido has spoken to over the last week think Cadwalladr has lost the plot. Seems her editors at the Observer are now catching up…

UPDATE: This is where the Observer buried its correction admitting Carole Cadwalladr’s central charge linking Vote Leave, Cambridge Analytica and AggregateIQ is untrue. Page 50.

Remain Campaign Whistleblower Reveals How They Cheated and Still Lost

The first time Guido met Sebastian Kale, he didn’t yet have blue hair. That comes later. As does his mission to tell the truth about how, in his words, the Remain campaign “cheated” during the referendum – and still lost.

By the time Guido met the 26 year-old university dropout turned self-proclaimed tech wizard in person, we’d been talking on a daily basis for hours at a time. Over a period of months, the vegan teetotaller told us how he had played a pivotal role at the heart of Stronger In, coming up with an idea that was, as he describes it, “Craig Oliver’s mindf*ck tool”.

“Is it fair to say you hacked democracy?” Guido asked him one night. He hesitates. “9 million quid,” Kale whispers, his flesh impossibly young – his age glaringly at odds with what he has done. “I’ll point out that I assumed it was entirely legal and above board.” It was Kale who came up with the idea to spend £9 million of taxpayer’s money on Remain campaign propaganda leaflets delivered to every household in the country.

Yet it is the £3 million he spent on “digital promotion” that explain his demeanour when I find him lying low in front of a photographer in our newsroom: guilty, brooding, indignant, confused.

“We used the data that 3.2 million people consented to give away after signing up for the Guardian app,” Kale explains, “and we targeted our propaganda to the three key Remain indicators: people who liked Bob Geldof, soy milk and the CBI on Facebook”.

Kale had other ideas, though they fell on deaf ears. “I sent a pitch to June Sarpong telling her I could harvest data from anyone who had ever posted a photo of an avocado on Instagram, but she sent an email back calling me a charlatan”. In evidence submitted to the DCMS select committee, Kale denies he has gone public as revenge for an excoriating 8,000 word blog Sarpong wrote about him last week.

“What if I told you,” Kale continues, “that we planned it all from the start”. The conference calls every morning to coordinate their messaging? The sharing data, suppliers and campaign materials? The collusion on spending, I ask?

“No, no, that was just the start,” he replies. “The real genius was managing to convince Carole Cadwalladr to write that it was the Leavers who cheated, when we outspent them by £6 million. We knew Peter Jukes would tweet any old nonsense, but even we thought the Observer would realise that they’d look mad”.

When Guido asked the Remain campaign for comment, they leaked our questions to the New European. Stay tuned for more revelations, every Sunday until we have no readers left…

UPDATE: Check the date…

590 Million Facebook Profiles Potentially Harvested By Guardian App

The Observer’s main revelation over the last couple of weeks has been their claim that Cambridge Analytica harvested data from 50 million Facebook accounts. They found that CA’s Aleksander Kogan collected data from 270,000 accounts and was able to access data from all their friends – on average 185 users per account – making up a total of 50 million. This does seem to add up, the most recent figures suggest the median number of Facebook friends per account is just under 200. 

The Guardian app’s privacy policy reveals they also collect data from your Facebook account, and the accounts of all your friends. This data includes “your name, profile picture, gender, networks, user ID and any other information you choose to share according to your Facebook account settings, as well as the user details of your Facebook friends”. You have to give permission to have your data, and that of your friends, collected if you want to use the app. This has been happening for years…

The Guardian say their app has 3.2 million active users. If those users have on average 185 Facebook friends each, that means the Guardian has potentially accessed the personal Facebook data of something like 592 million accounts. That is more than ten times the number Cambridge Analytica reportedly got hold of. This is a conservative estimate as it only includes “active” users of the Guardian app – it will have been downloaded by many more down the years. Will Damian Collins be hauling the head of data and CEO of the Guardian in front of his select committee?

Cadwalladr’s Sunday Scoop: Top Remainer Paid AIQ

Guido hears Carole Cadwalladr has another big scoop lined up for Sunday about money paid to the Canadian digital marketing firm AggregateIQ. Carole has emailed Michael Gove asking what AIQ did for his leadership campaign in the summer of 2016. Has she uncovered a new layer to the great Brexit conspiracy? It turns out AIQ was paid £2,720.46 in July 2016 to set up the campaign website. The payment was put through by campaign manager Nick Boles, a prominent Remainer and Stronger In campaigner. Which slightly throws a spanner in the works for Carole’s next sinister Brexiteer flow chart. Just how deep does the conspiracy go? 

Guardian App Harvests Your and Your Friends’ Facebook Data

The Guardian app harvests your personal data from your Facebook page and also the data of all of your friends – the exact same central allegation the Observer has been making against Cambridge Analytica. The privacy policy of the Guardian Facebook app makes clear if you don’t grant permission to have your and your friends’ social media data harvested you cannot use the app:

When you first access the App, for example by clicking on a link to a Guardian article from your Facebook newsfeed, you will be presented with a Facebook permissions page, which will advise you about the Facebook information you will be sharing with the App and other Facebook users. You can then decide whether or not to share your Facebook information by using the App. If you decide not to grant permission you will not be able to use the App. 

By granting permission you will be agreeing to share your Facebook user details (including your name, profile picture, gender, networks, user ID and any other information you choose to share according to your Facebook account settings) as well as the user details of your Facebook friends, and information about your use of the App, for example, the articles you are reading.”

The Guardian’s general privacy policy also reveals they sell your “behavioural data” to third parties:

“We may also share anonymised behavioural data with advertising partners, including commercial organisations that fund content labelled ‘Supported by’, ‘Paid content/Paid for by’ or ‘Advertiser content/from our advertisers’. This may mean that when you are on other websites, you will be shown advertising based on your behaviour on theguardian.com. We may also show you advertising on our site based on your behaviour on other sites.

They also reveal the Guardian uses data from third-party surveys – this is exactly how Aleksandr Kogan got his data for Cambridge Analytica:

“To assist us in our marketing, in addition to the data that you provide to us if you register, we may also obtain data from trusted third parties to help us understand what you might be interested in. This ‘profiling’ information is produced from a variety of sources, including publicly available data (such as the electoral roll) or from sources such as surveys and polls where you have given your permission for your data to be shared.”

Did the Guardian sell your behavioural data to Cambridge Analytica? Are they the missing piece of the jigsaw that blows this whole conspiracy wide open? Over to you, Carole…

Remainers Blow Half a Million on Ad Campaign in FT, Guardian and Standard

Ultra-Remain spin shop Best for Britain are spending half a million pounds putting these posters up in Leicester Square, Westfield and Canary Wharf, and buying adverts in the FT, Guardian, Evening Standard and Metro. Way to reach out beyond your base…

The poster campaign purports to represent people “from all walks of life”. It is accompanied by a quote in the press release from Mark Malloch-Brown, the Cambridge-educated millionaire former lobbyist, World Bank vice-president, Economist journalist, friend of Bono and vice-chairman of Soros Fund Management.

Whether it’s spurious court cases or pointless poster campaigns, Remainers are great at wasting other people’s money.

FAO Carole Cadwalladr: Sinister Remain Nexus Revealed

Click to enlarge

The Observer’s Carole Cadwalladr loves a flow chart to lay out her Brexit conspiracies. Guido has borrowed her tin-foil hat to show just how easy it is to uncover a dark web of sinister connections and hidden collusion. Our flow chart uncovers the Remain secrets of Best For Britain, the Fair Vote Project, Byline, Impress, Max Mosley, Bindmans, Chris Wylie, Shahmir Sanni, Gina Miller and Jolyon Maugham. How deep does it go? Just call Guido ‘Carole’ and give us a British Journalism Award…

Remain Campaign Used Exactly the Same Spending Tactics As Vote Leave, Only Far Worse

There is a long list of reasons why Carole Cadwalladr’s claims that Vote Leave “cheated” on their spending during the referendum are wrong. First and foremost, the Remain campaign did exactly the same thing that Cadwalladr is accusing Vote Leave of, only far, far worse. Vote Leave gifted BeLeave £625,000. Yet in the month before the vote the Remainers set up FIVE new campaigns and funnelled a MILLION pounds into them so they could stay under the spending limit:

  • DDB UK Ltd registered as an independent campaign on 25 May 2016, less than a month before the referendum. DDB UK Ltd received £191,000 in donations.

  • Best For Our Future registered as a permitted participant on 27 May 2016, less than a month before the referendum. It received £424,000 in donations

  • The In Crowd registered on 10 June 2016, less than two weeks before the referendum. It received £76,000 in donations.

  • Virgin Management Ltd registered as a permitted participant on 3 June 2016, less than three weeks before the referendum. It received £210,000 in donations.

  • Wake Up And Vote registered as a permitted participant on 24 May 2016, less than a month before the referendum. It received £100,000 in donations.

The Remain campaign did exactly the same thing as Vote Leave, only with more money and with five new campaigns. This renders Cadwalladr’s central charge against Vote Leave completely obsolete.

Reason number two why the claims about Vote Leave and BeLeave coordinating are bonkers. The lawyer championing the Cadwalladr claims, Jolyon Maugham, has called the validity of the referendum into question over alleged collusion among the Leave campaigns. Yet the various Remain campaigns coordinated on a much greater scale, holding conference calls every morning to coordinate their messaging, sharing data, suppliers and campaign materials, and coordinating spending. Cadwalladr and Maugham have completely ignored the fact that the Remain campaigns colluded on a much larger scale.

Reason number three, and the most obvious of the lot: how can Vote Leave reasonably be accused of cheating on spending when the Remain campaign spent far, far more and had the entire machinery of Whitehall behind them? Electoral Commission figures show the Remain campaign spent £19 million. The Leave campaign spent £13 million. The government spent £9 million of taxpayers’ money on Remain campaign literature. £3 million of this was spent on online ads and “digital promotion”. How can Vote Leave possibly be accused of cheating when the overall spending was so blatantly biased in favour of the Remain campaign?

As the Sunday Times political editor Tim Shipman says:

The truth is the only people pushing Cadwalladr’s nonsense are ultra-Remainers who cannot fathom that the country wants Brexit, and have to believe that the Leave vote only happened due to some corruption or cheating. The facts simply do not bear this out.

Observer’s ‘Scared’ Sources Looked Pretty Relaxed Last Night

Observer source Shahmir Sanni says being “outed” was an “attempt to scare me” which has put him in “danger” and threatened his family’s safety. Well he didn’t look too worried as he partied with fellow whistleblower Chris Wylie at ‘Sink the Pink’ in Brixton last night. Shahmir and Wylie were certainly making the most of their newfound fame. Carole Cadwalladr promised Watergate and delivered a dodgy Zoolander. Almost as if this whole thing has been hyped up and exaggerated into the realms of fantasy in a bitter act of sour grapes following the break-up of a relationship… 

Greggs Westminster Officially Open!

Greggs Westminster is officially open! The ribbon was cut with ceremonial aplomb by the Times’ Grant Tucker this morning. In a developing media storm, Guy News caught him on camera accepting a Greggs VIP gold card for his troublesm making him something of a pasty patsy. Crumbs…

Many happy customers…

Who Is On Question Time Tonight

£1.75m-a-Year Snob Lineker Mocks “Slimey, Smelly” Fishermen

Gary Lineker’s mask slips once again – the £1.75 million-a-year BBC presenter reveals his contempt for hard-working fishermen as he dubs skipper Aaron Brown “slimey” and “slippery”. Trust a snob like Gary to go the full Geldof.

Now Owen in Trans Rights Fight With Trade Unionists and Top Corbyn Aide

A couple of weeks back Guido told how Owen Jones had made himself extremely unpopular with female Guardian colleagues for mansplaining about all-women shortlists. Owen may not care what feminists like Hadley Freeman think, but now it seems his brocialist agitating is causing issues with Team Corbyn. Since Jones cynically betrayed Corbyn before the general election he has had to go crawling back. The Leader’s Office doesn’t fully trust him – understandably – though they have been enjoying his attempts to over-compensate, most recently evident when Owen spread fake news about Newsnight over the weekend. However, Jones’ campaigning on the trans issue has put him at odds with top Corbyn aide Andrew Murray. James Kirkup reports that Jones’ enemies in the trans war, the feminist group ‘A Women’s Place’, are run by trade unionists who have Murray’s backing. Murray is quoted as saying: “This attempt to silence women’s voices does a disservice to us all”. Murray is a proper Corbyn player, a decades-long ally of Seumas Milne, considerably more trusted by Team Jezza, and Owen has got on the wrong side of him. Murray is also an old Stalinist – watch out for ice picks…

Labour Head of Broadcast Now Working For BBC News

Lobby hacks often move over to the dark side of spin, but travelling the other way is generally a bit of a no-no – especially if it’s a paid-up party hand heading to the BBC. Katy Dillon was Labour’s head of broadcast for three years until October and worked for the party since 2010. Guido hears she is now working on the BBC newsdesk at their Millbank politics base. It’s not like Katy is recusing herself from reporting on Labour – she has bylines on pieces about Jeremy Corbyn and has been sending out copy about internal Labour politics. Fair to say this is causing concern among her new colleagues. It may be that the Leader’s Office has more to worry about though – Dillon is certainly not a Corbynista…

Labour Spent Hundreds of Thousands With Google, Amazon and Daily Mail Group

Corbyn and McDonnell have repeatedly singled out Google and Amazon as tax-avoiding baddies and vowed to get “aggressive” with them… turns out aggressive means Labour paying Google Ireland Limited £250,000 and US-based Amazon Web Services £22,000 during the general election.

Labour also gave Associated Newspapers, publisher of the Daily Mail, £12,000 for advertising during the campaign. The Corbynista ‘Stop Funding Hate’ cranks not so loud about that one…

Fake Hat-Gate Claims Had Social Media Reach of Over 2 Million

Fake claims that Newsnight photoshopped Jeremy Corbyn to make him look like a “Soviet stooge” had a social media reach of over 2 million, analysis by Guido can reveal. By contrast, tweets from the BBC debunking the untrue claims received just 2,400 retweets.

Owen Jones’ Newsnight performance in which he alleged “you had Jeremy Corbyn dressed up as a Soviet stooge, you even photoshopped his hat to look more Russian” – an untrue assertion that the BBC has debunked – was clipped up by Momentum and other prominent Corbynista Twitter accounts. The fake claim was also pushed by Labour MP Laura Pidcock. The numbers are a case study in how fake news can go viral:

  • Momentum’s Facebook video falsely claiming the BBC “dressed up” Corbyn had 716,000 views and 20,000 shares.
  • Momentum’s Twitter video had 266,000 views.
  • The same video from the @Limitless_Josh Twitter account had a further 157,000 views.
  • A video from the @jennie_bujold Twitter account had another 70,000 views.
  • Newsnight’s Twitter video of the same section had 204,000 views.
  • Owen Jones repeatedly pushed the claims on his own Twitter account, even after they had been denied and debunked. He has 738,000 followers, his tweets were retweeted 9,000 times.
  • Similar claims by the @ToryFibs account were sent to their 93,000 followers and retweeted 3,000 times.
  • Labour MP Laura Pidcock tweeted the untrue claim to her 40,000 followers, she was retweeted 2,300 times.
  • By contrast… the BBC Press Office tweets denying they photoshopped the image were retweeted just 600 times. Newsnight acting editor Jess Brammar’s tweets debunking the claims had just 1,800 retweets.

This means the hat-gate claims were sent viral to a similar degree as the animal sentience fake news last year. This is not the first time Corbynistas have knowingly pushed untrue claims to millions of unwitting social media users. Owen and his comrades know what they’re doing…

Guardian U-Turns to Take Seumas’ Line

Curious about-turn at the Guardian over the last 24 hours. Thursday’s paper ran this strong leader criticising Corbyn and backing Theresa May’s conclusion on Russian responsibility:

“Mr Corbyn’s reluctance to share Mrs May’s basic analysis of the Salisbury incident made him look eager to exonerate a hostile power… Britain has been targeted with a chemical weapon and it is almost certain that there is only one plausible culprit with the means and the motive. The prime minister might not have as many tools for retaliation, unilateral or international, as she would like. But she has judged correctly that the time for equivocation, given the sinister nature of Mr Putin’s regime, is over.”

Yet this morning’s paper pours scorn on the previous day’s leader, running a story headlined: “UK’s claims questioned: doubts voiced about source of Salisbury novichok”. It echoes Seumas Milne’s line comparing the situation to Iraqi WMD, and quotes “arguments” on “social media” that the novichok could have come from “some non-state group, maybe criminals”. It even links to the infamous conspiracy theorist Craig Murray’s blog claiming “Israel undoubtedly has as much technical capacity as any state to synthesise Novichoks”. The decision to promote a source like Murray, a man who has spent time in a residential mental health facility, has caused bewilderment in the Guardian newsroom…

Guardian hacks are wondering why their paper’s line has changed so dramatically in such a short space of time. They doubt a respected journalist like Ewan MacAskill would write such an odd piece without instructions from above. Surely nothing to do with Seumas giving his old friend Kath Viner Corbyn’s big op-ed this morning…

Who’s on Question Time Tonight (Special RT Edition)

Controversial RT presenter Afshin Rattansi makes his first appearance on Question Time tonight at the height of the Russia crisis. Thanks, Auntie…

Some of Rattansi’s greatest hits include:

Wonder if he will stick to this theme tonight?

UPDATE: By coincidence Question Time’s assistant producer, Poppy Bullard, worked as a journalist at RT before gettnig a job on QT

Russian State Media Trumpets Corbyn’s Statement on Spy Poisoning

Jeremy Corbyn’s response to the Russia spy poisoning crisis is being used by Putin’s state media to counter the British government’s position. Corbyn’s statement to parliament yesterday is set against Theresa May’s in this write-up by TV Zvezda, a Russian army media outlet run by Putin’s Ministry of Defence:

“Earlier, British Prime Minister Teresa May said that Russia was allegedly involved in the poisoning of Skripal.

[…] Read the rest

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