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Mindf*ck: Inside Cambridge Analytica’s Plot to Break the World

4.52  ·  Rating details ·  449 ratings  ·  87 reviews
What if you could peer into the minds of an entire population? What if you could target the weakest with rumours that only they saw?

In 2016, an obscure British military contractor turned the world upside down. Funded by a billionaire on a crusade to start his own far-right insurgency, Cambridge Analytica combined psychological research with private Facebook data to make an
Paperback, 288 pages
Published October 8th 2019 by Profile Books
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Start your review of Mindf*ck: Inside Cambridge Analytica’s Plot to Break the World
READ THIS: My pick for best non-fiction, true crime, psychological thriller - ever!
Can't believe I wrote so much and didn't once mention Steve Bannon, who is the one who thought to turn this research into psychological warfare.

“I don’t know what else to say other than I was more naïve than I thought I was at the time. . .

When I joined SCL, I was there to help the firm explore areas like counter-radicalisation in order to help Britain, America and their allies defend themselves against new
Nov 17, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Mindf*ck: Cambridge Analytica and the Plot to Break America by Christopher Wylie is a cautionary tale about politics, Steve Bannon, Big Data and how to set Americans against one another and the whole thing brought to you by a twenty-four-year-old Canadian whistleblower. This is a classic case of food for thought and this book should be read before the next election.
Oct 14, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Just... read this book. And then walk through the world. You won't be the same.
Oct 10, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book details the efforts of Cambridge analytica, Steve Bannon, the Mercer’s and Russian intelligence to influence the 2016 U.S. elections and the U. K. Brexit vote. The writer worked for the company and became a whistleblower. Everybody should read this account which rings true and begs the question why did they all get away with it? Why hasn’t anyone one of the principal players gone to jail? Big data and tech companies like Facebook made it possible and clearly the threat is still alive. ...more
Oliver Bogler
Oct 13, 2019 rated it really liked it
We owe Mr. Wylie a debt of gratitude for coming forward, at considerable personal risk and cost, to tell this story. And he tells it well, and clearly and concisely. What emerges is of course, simply horrific, and at times intensely cringe-worthy. We see upper-class-Brit-twits from, as we say nowadays, central casting destroying the world while having a lovely time and indulging sordid fever dreams of empire. We see the people who crawled out from under diverse rocks seize the tools created by ...more
Aditi ~ •A Thousand Words A Million Books
Brilliant. Makes you think, scares you and just an overall stellar explanation and read of the behind the scenes Cambridge Analytica scandal.
Niklas Pivic
First: is this memoir better than Edward Snowden's? Yes. They're different and should be treated as such, but, yes, this one is a better book.

This book is better because of its style and how human it is, to me. While Snowden's report on what not only the US government did to its citizens and the rest of the world, together with some of the biggest tech companies on our planet, Wylie's ingeniously written, sly, funny, and extremely dark book touches several very human nerves, including what I
Tom Walsh
Oct 13, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Well documented account of Cambridge Analytica’s Tactics.

This insider tale of Bannon’s, Mercer’s and other Big Money interests’ perversion of a powerful technology to destroy the integrity of the US 2016 and British Brexit elections as well as other elections around the world. But much more importantly, a well-reasoned warning to the World of the power of Technologies like Facebook and Data Mining to tear apart any semblance of Privacy Rights and ultimately of Human Free Will.

Oct 23, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Minus for or against politics or political sway, the mere fact that this was pulled off is fascinating all by itself. Minus who is running and who the president is, forget current names in the news and party names; forget all that! One thinks this is sci-fi fantasy and the possibility this could actually happen, but to actually have happened? Really? And we fell for it like little bots on a game board which is all we were to them. THIS IS A TRUE ACCOUNTING. The first plot was to deter the black ...more
Les Simpson
Nov 01, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I clearly remember that one of the loudest rallying cries around the emergence of online social media was that various platforms would help marginalized people find supportive communities and they would learn they are not alone in the world. One of the loudest warnings was the possible creation of “echo chambers” where people would become stagnant in their thinking because they would never be challenged by thoughts or opinions counter to their own.

Flash forward to 2019.

While online social media
Meredith Mara
Dec 01, 2019 rated it really liked it
Brilliant. And much more insight than Netflix's The Great Hack. Frightening in it's eye-openingness.
Thanks, I hate it.

This is one of the most horrifying books I've read in recent years, but it's certainly fascinating and informative.

That said, I'm certainly no happier for having learned in more detail about Cambridge Analytica's data-driven psychological warfare and the ways in which Facebook was weaponized to skew recent elections.

Christopher Wylie is a complex person who seems to be trying to atone for his misdeeds through publicly exposing the dirty work he engaged in. Whether or not he
Oct 17, 2019 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: junk
The text is rather simplistic. The people are morons, semi-autonomous drones with no will or reason. On the other side there are powerful wizards ready to program these drones to do something that is pure evil. And there is Wylie, the knight in shinny armor ready to slay the dragon.
Micah Grossman
Too self serving, but the first-hand reports of Cambridge Analytica are worth the price of admission. He makes good regulation arguments toward the end. He really, really, really wants you to think he was different, remorseful, and not as evil as the others: good luck with that.
Xijian Lim
Nov 12, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I breezed past this book in about 2 weeks, which is a testament to the way the book flows. When I first heard about Wylie and Cambridge Analytica (CA) in 2017, I really wanted to get a clearer picture of the way these guys were able to roll out behavioural questionnaires en masse on FB. I worked for an online social media analytics company and mastered in psychology in my undergraduate degree, hence the keenness in learning about what CA did, and how they did what they claimed to do.

The book
Travis Mcgee
Nov 06, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
4.5 stars rounded up to 5 stars because of how important this book is. The book is well-written and other than it dragging a bit midway and some technical parts that were difficult for me to understand it moved along nicely. I was not very well informed about the innovation to weaponize data so this book was a revelation to me. I thought his observations about potential regulatory interventions to be a ray of hope to counterbalance the dismal path our culture has taken that is described in the ...more
Oct 27, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
If you read nothing else this year, you need to read this.

It throws light over Cambridge Analytica, and the lengths that it would go to one to show just what they could do, and what they were prepared to do for their clients.

The shape of things to come, were shown with data provided by small Caribbean Islands and smaller African Nations. This data, was twisted and manipulated, to coerce people into doing things that they wouldn't normally do. Whether, this be in-sighting violence or manipulating
Paul Szydlowski
Oct 20, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
It starts and ends slowly, otherwise I'd give it five stars. Unlike other books that question Brexit and the rise of Trump, relying upon sources willing to share what they know, this one is written by a person at the heart of it - and when he speaks of Steve Bannon seeking to weaponize the anger of a nasty subset of Americans angered by immigrants, Muslims, African-Americans, the media and liberals, he is not referring to a person he interviewed, but one he worked with side-by-side to both ...more
Oct 24, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: work
Incredible. Still can't stop thinking about it.
Nov 08, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
READ THIS BOOK! And, quit getting your news and views on social media. Wylie's book gives you valuable insight into current events.
Oct 25, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I couldn't decide, is this a horror story or a tragedy?

The bottom line is this, this book scared me, it will always haunt me and it has proven that monsters are REAL.
David Kudlinski
Nov 09, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Not long after I started reading Mindf*ck, I couldn’t put this fascinating book down. This is one of the best current events book you’ll find, and a rare insight into the slowly emerging dark side of Facebook. It is extremely well written by Christopher Wylie, and never boring, as the narrative winds us through the backroom politics of South America, Africa, Brexit, and Steve Bannon’s Alt Right vision.

In short, a private British military contractor SCL formed Cambridge Analytica (CA) to use
Andrew Robins
Nov 16, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I enjoyed this book but at the back of my mind was the nagging thought that, whilst Chris Wylie proudly wears his whistle blower badge, and is to be applauded for that, he managed to work with these horrible right wing ghouls for quite a while.

Maybe if he'd done the right thing a little earlier, we wouldn't be lumbered with Trump and Brexit - the toxic campaign for the latter having changed this country irreparably.

Fortunately he eventually did do the right thing, and people like Carol
Sue Wakula
Nov 13, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I'm a Boomer. I wasn't prepared, in any sense, for the weaponization of data. I mean, I should've suspected that what we thought was just a medium for keeping up with our kids at college and reconnecting with our high school chums would be used to manipulate us.

I am floored that anyone would have such contempt for humanity, the way those at Cambridge Analytica did and probably still do.

I read this book concurrently with Sr. Helen Prejean's new memoir, "River of Fire: My Spiritual Journey." Her
chelsey buggie
Nov 09, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
"Curiously enough, the dolphins had long known of the impending demolition of Earth and had made many attempts to alert mankind to the danger. [...] The last ever dolphin message was misinterpreted as a surprisingly sophisticated attempt to do a double backwards somersault through a hoop, whilst whistling the ‘Star-Spangled Banner’. But, in fact, the message was this “So long and thanks for all the fish”.

So long and thanks for all the fish is the equivalent to Christopher Wylie's "Thank you, and
Nov 09, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
It never occurred to me that I would thoroughly enjoy a book about the Cambridge Analytica scandal. But I did! My son gave me a copy of the book for my birthday - right after it was published. When I finally began to read it, I found that the author has an intelligent and engaging style. He told the story in first person, giving an account both of his work for the firm and his decision, after walking away, to become a whistleblower. It is a fascinating story, made even more so by Wylie's deep ...more
Nov 14, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Even if you think you know the details (as I did) of the Cambridge Analytica scandal this book is a must read. Wylie sets out the horrifying detail of how they built databases that knew everything about people and how they used that information to influence people without their knowledge. Some of what they did was definitely illegal, other actions were not illegal because society has simply not known how to start regulating digital actions, but it’s truly shocking.

I did find Wylie’s positioning
Louis Cabri
“Computers outpacing humans in personality judgment presents significant opportunities and challenges in the areas of psychological assessment, marketing, and privacy” (Youyou, Kosinski and Stillwell qtd in Wylie, p. 103)
Lisa Miller
Nov 13, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I devoured the first half of the book, horrified and fascinated with what I was learning. So much of the inexplicable vitriol and bad behavior I’d been seeing the last few years suddenly made sense.

Then, perhaps because I’m not a Brit, I got slowed down by the section on Brexit. However, the book finished strong, and I’m impressed that Wylie offers up ways to change things. Without change we are all going to continue to be manipulated by a handful of men who have lots of money and want to
Tristan von Zahn
Fascinating, frightening.
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“In one experiment, CA would show people on online panels pictures of simple bar graphs about uncontroversial things (e.g., the usage rates of mobile phones or sales of a car type) and the majority would be able to read the graph correctly. However, unbeknownst to the respondents, the data behind these graphs had actually been derived from politically controversial topics, such as income inequality, climate change, or deaths from gun violence. When the labels of the same graphs were later switched to their actual controversial topic, respondents who were made angry by identity threats were more likely to misread the relabeled graphs that they had previously understood. What CA observed was that when respondents were angry, their need for complete and rational explanations was also significantly reduced. In particular, anger put people in a frame of mind in which they were more indiscriminately punitive, particularly to out-groups. They would also underestimate the risk of negative outcomes. This led CA to discover that even if a hypothetical trade war with China or Mexico meant the loss of American jobs and profits, people primed with anger would tolerate that domestic economic damage if it meant they could use a trade war to punish immigrant groups and urban liberals.” 0 likes
“Scale is the elephant in the room. When Silicon Valley executives excuse themselves and say their platform’s scale is so big that it’s really hard to prevent mass shootings from being broadcast or ethnic cleansing from being incited on their platforms, this is not an excuse—they are implicitly acknowledging that what they have created is too big for them to manage on their own. And yet, they also implicitly believe that their right to profit from these systems outweighs the social costs others bear. So when companies like Facebook say, “We have heard feedback that we must do more,” as they did when their platform was used to live-broadcast mass shootings in New Zealand, we should ask them a question: If these problems are too big for you to solve on the fly, why should you be allowed to release untested products before you understand their potential consequences for society?” 0 likes
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