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cambridge analytica

On 4th April, Mark Zuckerberg was in full PR mode: he'd posted family photos on Facebook, carefully emphasising that in his house both Jewish and Christian festivals are marked with food but no sign of frivolity and he'd been seen looking suitably tired. He'd brushed off, at least so far as America is concerned, his refusal to appear before a British Parliamentary Committee. And he'd had a bit of the news agenda taken away from his own, and Facebook's bad news stream by the shooting at YouTube. And so, on a conference call with media selected by Facebook's PR people, when he began to present what he calls "Hard Questions: Q&A with Mark Zuckerberg on Protecting People’s Information" he was not expecting anything like the BBC's Hard Talk. And so it proved: he set the agenda, questions were soft and answers were nebulous.

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It's the American dream: little lonely kid with only a handful of people who appear to like him talks with one or two of them and they come up with a geeky idea : let's put our college yearbook (a curiously American thing) into a database and let everyone in it tell everyone in it what they are doing, and let them read what everyone else is doing. Then, as the others, one by one, find out that the reason he's the little lonely kid is that he's a sociopathic egotistical self-absorbed autocrat, he ends up alone and somehow sitting on something that generates thousands of millions of dollars in share value. Then someone spills the saucer full of secrets and Americans are shocked out of their stupor and they don't like it.

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