Brexit Party’s Head of Digital Strategy Left Two Weeks into the Election

To add to the Brexit Party’s woes today in light of four MEPs resigning the whip, Guido learns their Deputy Head of Digital, and Head of Digital Strategy, left two weeks into the election, after having resigned at the end of October. Given their lack of air time, digital ads were crucial to their success…

Ed Jankowski, who joined the party in April, left a fortnight into the election due to frustration at the party’s ideological – not data-driven – kamikaze campaign. The Brexit Party currently has no active Facebook ads just a week before the general election and claim their Facebook operation was Jankowski’s remit…

It is understood Ed was replaced by the former Chair of UKIP’s Youth Wing, Jamie Ross McKenzie (who was previously given a police caution for assault). There are few wheels left to fall off the Brexit Party’s campaign…

Tories Buy MargaretBeckett.com

Everyone knows it can be difficult teaching your grandparents how to use the internet, so very kindly Ed Barker, the Tory candidate for Derby south, took it upon themselves to buy and set up margaretbeckett.com on her behalf. A kinder, gentler politics in action…

Unfortunately for Margaret, the Tories didn’t quite stick to the Labour message, instead calling on unsuspecting voters not to vote Labour, with their Derby South candidate helpfully explaining in a video:

“She’s got no website, no social media and the only way of contacting her is by letter… Now as the candidate doesn’t have her own website I thought I’d do one for her just to show how disastrous it would be to have Jeremy Corbyn as our Prime Minister.”

Just another example of how clever the Tories’ online strategy is this time compared to the last…

Anti-Uber Unions Fund Sadiq’s Election Campaign

Sadiq Khan has dangled red meat to the unions over Uber since he became Mayor. The ban this morning was the second time the popular ride app service has been whacked by him. Why, you might ask, is Sadiq so keen to inconvenience the millions of Londoners – and potential voters – who use and enjoy the Uber app?

Electoral Commission records show that in 2015, Sadiq received almost £100,000 from three anti-Uber trade unions.

GMB: £20,000
TSSA: £15,000
Unite: £60,000

All three unions welcomed the decision today, they have been campaigning against new entrants into the taxi market for years. Limiting competition for taxis in London might hurt consumers, on the other hand it helps these powerful unions who are busily recruiting London cabbies to their ranks. Sadiq is paying them back ahead of passing the hat around next year for donations when he seeks re-election.

Sadiq has also burdened Uber with conditions attached to the Private-Hire Operators licence to which other operators are not being held. The last Uber London licence had 20 regulatory requirements, whereas other app based operators have no more than 9. Sadiq is singling out Uber for politcal reasons…

Uber Loses Licence to Operate in London

Uber’s licence to operate in London has ended today, but the company will continue to operate while it appeals TFL’s decision. Developing…

Readers may remember this has happened before. In 2017 Sadiq tried to ban Uber but the company won on appeal. This looks a lot like the Mayor flexing his muscles…

Twitter Threaten CCHQ Over ‘FactCheck’ Rebrand Stunt

The cheeky move by CCHQ to rebrand themselves as a fact-checking account during last night’s debate may have got everyone talking, but could backfire as Twitter have said “Any further attempts to mislead people by editing verified profile information – in a manner seen during the UK Election Debate – will result in decisive corrective action”. Judging by the backlash this wasn’t so much a dead cat as a dead elephant…

Even right-wingers like Julia Hartley-Brewer and Susanne Evans called on CCHQ to reverse the rebrand, calling it “plain wrong” and “very stupid”. As Emily Maitlis then later pointed out, Boris was, in fact, answering questions in the debate on integrity at the same time as CCHQ was pretending to be something it wasn’t…

Still, not the worst interview performance Emily’s sat through this week…

Guido’s still waiting for the commentariat’s reciprocal outrage towards Labour’s own ‘fact-checking’ account, which, even worse than CCHQ’s stunt, doesn’t mention its Labour origins in either its name or its handle.

CCHQ’s Twitter backlash wasn’t the biggest faux pas on the social media site last night, however, as Alastair Campbell rebranded his account as ‘Boris Johnson’ and posted a number of misogynistic tweets, with one particularly distasteful one directed at Carrie.

When he changed his name back it kind of backfired:

He really didn’t think that through did he?

Party that Wants to Run the Internet Sends Out Blank Web Page Press Release

Fresh from Labour’s announcement they want to run all broadband, the party has now published Richard Burgon’s response to crime figures… only, they haven’t posted it at all; It’s blank. To be fair, this is about as much of the farting commie Guido ever wants to hear from…

They Can’t Keep a Website Running Yet Want to Nationalise the Internet

BT’s share price dropped almost 4% on opening this morning, following Labour’s late-night announcement yesterday that they plan on nationalising parts of BT to provide free full-fibre broadband to every household. They’ve costed it at £20 billion, which, in comparison to the rest of Labour’s manifesto, borders on pocket change…

Doing the media rounds this morning, McDonnell has promised re-nationalising British Telecoms really is the “limit of their ambitions”, however it has been pointed out he said the same thing when announcing he’d nationalise water, energy, rail and the post office…

Meanwhile, in a sign of what households can expect under the new National Web Service, the group behind the “sophisticated and large-scale” cyber attacks directed at Labour’s website (which turned out to be merely DDoS attacks) have told The Independent they will strike again if we see a Labour government

“If Labour do win the election, you can expect the whole of the government and Labour websites to go offline”

Fully automated luxury communism, here we go…

Has Labour Really Been Hit By “Large-Scale and Sophisticated” Cyber Attack?

Last night Michael Crick spotted Labour’s centralised candidate leaflet generator had been failing for some hours, preventing PPCs from sorting out their election literature. The error message last night was:

Today was the deadline for Labour CLPs to get their freepost printing done. Could it be that a last-minute scramble has overwhelmed Labour’s servers? Overnight this has somehow mutated into a “sophisticated and large-scale cyber attack” on its digital platforms. True a lot of people logging on can seem like a distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attack or it could just be a lot of people trying to log on before the deadline. Guido is betting on the latter…

Labour have just put out a press release claiming:

Yesterday afternoon our security systems identified that, in a very short period of time, there were large-scale and sophisticated attacks on Labour Party platforms which had the intention of taking our systems entirely offline. Every single one of these attempts failed due to our robust security systems and the integrity of all our platforms and data was maintained.

From the party that wants to nationalise Greggs, comes ‘we can’t run a centrally operated leaflet making website effectively’. Bets on how long it takes for them to blame Russia…

UPDATE: The National Cyber Security Centre says meh

UPDATE II: Seven Labour incumbent candidates, plus Paul Mason, have now claimed this attack was caused by foreign interference despite the NCSC effectively rejecting such a conspiracy

Twitter Bans Political Advertising

Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey announces worldwide ban on political advertising:

“A political message earns reach when people decide to follow an account or retweet. Paying for reach removes that decision, forcing highly optimized and targeted political messages on people. We believe this decision should not be compromised by money. While internet advertising is incredibly powerful and very effective for commercial advertisers, that power brings significant risks to politics, where it can be used to influence votes to affect the lives of millions. Internet political ads present entirely new challenges to civic discourse: machine learning-based optimization of messaging and micro-targeting, unchecked misleading information, and deep fakes. All at increasing velocity, sophistication, and overwhelming scale…”

A cynic might add that Twitter made little money out of political advertising compared to Facebook…

Lib Dems Facebook Spend More than all Parties Combined

The Liberal Democrats have geared up for the upcoming general election with a whopping £12,205 being spent on Facebook in the last week, more than every other major party put together. Labour and the Tories lag behind at £2,812 and £3,111 respectively. The SNP and The Brexit Party clearly haven’t got the memo, both failing to spend anything so far. Has anyone told Carole yet? 

SNP Data Gathering Hypocrisy

Like almost every millennial, Mhairi Black was tweeting nonsense last night. Her target? The very standard Tory operation to gather data on sympathetic voters. Linking to a CCHQ-run website calledGet Brexit Done – Tell your MP to back an election, Black wrote:

“The Tories have launched a data mining website called get-brexit-done.com

Under the giant SEND button there’s then some tiny text explaining that by clicking the giant send button, you’re consenting to CCHQ emailing you everything they’re up to, which seems dubious at best.”

SNP MPs and MSP piled in on the shocking discovery, condemning the non-branded data mining and the emails it sent to remain MPs. The same MPs who, until 2018, were responsible for a website called www.ref.scot – a totally unbranded website bar a tiny sentence at the bottom saying it was promoted by the SNP.

The SNP also have six campaigns running on their own party’s website, which similarly collect your name, email address and postcode once you press SEND. The greatest hypocrisy, however, is the SNP criticising the Tories’ data strategy, when only one year ago they were found out to have been buying data on British voters from NationBuilder for seven years – a company accused by Facebook of violating its users’ privacy.

Government Repeals the Porn Laws

In good news for online voyeurs, the new Government has announced it will not press ahead with Theresa May’s planned porn laws, legislation that would have brought in draconian restrictions on what websites people can freely access. In a written statement today, DCMS Secretary Nicky Morgan said:

“The government has concluded that this objective of coherence will be best achieved through our wider online harms proposals and, as a consequence, will not be commencing Part 3 of the Digital Economy Act 2017 concerning age verification for online pornography”

“The Digital Economy Act objectives will therefore be delivered through our proposed online harms regulatory regime. This course of action will give the regulator discretion on the most effective means for companies to meet their duty of care.”

The Adam Smith Institute, which helped lead the campaign to abolish the authoritarian policy is delighted with the policy reversion, which was it has to be said was a long time coming , telling Guido

“Millions of Brits can rest easier tonight as the government finally takes its sticky fingers out of people’s private lives. The porn laws were destined to fail and were a PR nightmare for a party that says it believes in individual liberty, personal and parental responsibility.”

“It’s great news for all of us that the government is no longer in the grip of patrician politicians that don’t understand the Internet.”

Freedom is winning….

Jennifer Arcuri Interview

Support Positive Twitter Day This Friday

Since 2012 Sunder Katwala and Guido have been promoting the idea of the last Friday in August being one day of positive exchanges on Twitter. The political Twittersphere in particular can be a horrible nasty place, what with the culture wars and political extremists generally being unpleasant.[…] Read the rest

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Boris Unveils New Immigration Policy on Facebook Live

In another sign of the changing times, Boris has become the first Prime Minister to announce a new policy to the nation from his desk via Facebook Live. Scheduled to hit commuters on the way home and in time for the evening news.[…] Read the rest

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Experian Snubs Brexit Party Despite Working With Labour and Tories

Amid the perennial spectacle of Carole Cadwalladr trying to milk the activities of a small over-hyped data company for all it’s worth, the tinfoil hat brigade have been remarkably unfussed about an organisation that has been amassing one of the largest databases of personal information in the UK for over 30 years.[…] Read the rest

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Cable Enjoys Summer Bash After Plugging Huawei

Vince Cable has long been a staunch advocate of greater Huawei involvement in the UK. From stepping down as Business Secretary in 2015 right up to this year he’s been busy penning op-eds talking them up and defending them in interviews.[…] Read the rest

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Clegg: ‘Absolutely No Evidence’ Russia Influenced Brexit

Carole Cadwalladr and David Lammy have been spluttering furiously into their cornflakes all morning after Nick Clegg told the Today Programme that there was “absolutely no evidence” that Russia or Cambridge Analytica influenced Brexit. Clegg said “we have a duty to explain fact from some of the allegations that have been made”.[…] Read the rest

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Government Cocks Up Porn Laws

The Government is continuing to have a hard time getting their ludicrous Porn Laws through, this morning Jeremy Wright came to the Commons to confirm Guido’s report from last month that the Porn Laws will not be coming into force on 15th July.[…] Read the rest

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Tory Leadership Cat-astrophe

Pakistan’s ruling party discovered the purrils of social media over the weekend after an unfur-tunate incident – politicians from Imran Khan’s party were left unamew-sed after the party’s official Facebook feed livestreamed a press conference. With a cat filter on:

The party evidently didn’t see the funny side and issued a humourless clarification for their cat-astrophic error.[…] Read the rest

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Quote of the Day

Dr Alexander Kogan, the app developer who originally harvested the Facebook data, said…

“I think what Cambridge Analytica has tried to sell is magic and made claims this is incredibly accurate and it tells you everything there is to tell about you. But I think the reality is it’s not that. If you sit down and you really work through the statistics and you think what does a correlation of point three means, those claims quickly fall apart. And that’s something any person with a statistical background can go and do.”

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