Is Cambridge Analytica Back?

A bit of panic swept around the internet this week because it looked like Cambridge Analytica was rearing its head again. Journalist Carole Cadwalladr tweeted an OMG with a video seeking out Facebook whistleblowers. But what really set off the panic was that the post was from an account called “Cambridge Analytica”.

The tweet is of a video which opens with the Cambridge Analytica logo. It then cuts to a Cambridge Analytica Facebook page, and a post from CA that read “…we’re back. You thought the last election was bad? You ain’t seen nothing yet. Welcome to dystopia.”

What follows in the video is a sequence of intercut images, between Mark Zuckerberg testifying to Congress and some of the more egregious actions of the police and white supremecists during the Black Lives Matter protests. They then cut to a screen-grab of the infamous Donald Trump tweet: When the looting starts, the shooting starts.

Then a series of title slides that claim that Zuckerberg is on the wrong side of history, and then call for Facebook employees to turn whistleblower.

“Stand up. Speak up. Walk out.” Which for some relatively new employees — no names mentioned here — might be a big ask when you’re pulling down a million a year plus bonuses.

So what’s Cambridge Analytica up to then? Nothing really — although I’ve seen reliable evidence that Alexander Nix is now working in the medical marijuana industry, but that’s for another show. What’s actually going on with this “Cambridge Analytica” branded tweet is that it came from an account with the at handle @Detox_Facebook.

It’s a new activist Twitter account pushing major advertisers like Starbucks and IKEA to stop advertising on Facebook unless it takes action against Trump.

In another video, Detox Facebook lists major companies that advertise on Facebook, along with their Twitter handles. That list includes Google, Coca-Cola, Nike, Lego, Disney, Nestle, McDonald’s, and Ford.

As of about an hour ago, Starbucks, Coca-Cola and Ben & Jerry’s ice cream are just three of more than 400 brands boycotting advertising on Facebook over the tech giant’s failure to moderate hate speech. Unilever, Adidas, Diageo, Reebok, Patagonia, Levi’s and Lululemon are also participating, and Prince Harry and Meghan Markle have got involved as well.

There are questions whether this boycott will have an effect, as the top 100 brands on the platform accounted for only around 6 per cent of the company’s $70bn (£56.3bn) revenue last year. Normally I’d say no company can survive a 6% hit, but after the past four months, some companies have proven surprisingly resilient, and this might not make that much difference, long-term, to Facebook.

It might, though, to their investors.