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Mindf*ck: Cambridge Analytica and the Plot to Break America

4.45  ·  Rating details ·  3,646 ratings  ·  524 reviews
For the first time, the Cambridge Analytica whistleblower tells the inside story of the data mining and psychological manipulation behind the election of Donald Trump and the Brexit referendum, connecting Facebook, WikiLeaks, Russian intelligence, and international hackers.

Mindf*ck goes deep inside Cambridge Analytica's "American operations," which were driven by Steve Ban
Hardcover, First Edition (U.S.), 288 pages
Published October 8th 2019 by Random House/Penguin Random House LLC
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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 th
Nov 17, 2019 rated it it was amazing
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.
Wow!! Enlightening and scary and brave.

My creative juices have abandoned me in terms of crafting an interesting and creative review. Suffice it to say this is an important book that everyone should read!! We are being manipulated by the social networks and search engines that we see online. It's psychological warfare and it is being waged constantly on fb, twitter, instagram, google etc. Your data is being collected and analyzed creating an online persona crafted to feed you specific informatio
This book gets my five stars, simply by opening my eyes to the idea of data as a commodity. The title could not be more apt, the reading experience was a total Mindf*uck and I really feel strongly this should be a compulsory read for those seeking to understand the dark nexus of politics and social media.
Alok Vaid-Menon
Dec 16, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: technology
This book blew my mind.

With the devastating election news from the UK and the rise of bigotry across the world, it is crucial to understand the role of social media. The contest over data in the digital realm is the new playing field where elections and ideologies are made and mapped, and yet these machinations are invisibilized. It has become possible to create an “artificial society,” one in which strangers can hold puppet strings of people across the globe – algorithms do not just structure
Oct 14, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Just... read this book. And then walk through the world. You won't be the same. ...more
Woman Reading
5 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟 A Billionaire and Russia Hack Democracy

Christopher Wylie's Mindf*ck is a must read for anybody interested in recent national political events and / or the intersection of social media, big data, and cultural undercurrents. Wylie recounts a complicated multinational tale of how one billionaire created Cambridge Analytica to be a psychological warfare tool wielded by an international ultra-conservative political movement.
... our identities and behavior have become commodities
If you're looking to understand Cambridge Analytica, datamining and their inextricable link with contemporary politics you could probably do a lot worse than this book, where you get the story straight from the (proverbial) horse's mouth. Chris Wylie worked at CA, so has all the intel on how the company excelled to have the wield it did. If I was rating purely on the importance of the topic this would get five stars, easily.

But that's not how I rate books, unfortunately, and I struggled with a f
... I said nothing during the meeting, but afterward I went to see Alexander Nix. "This can't be legal," I told him. To which he replied, "You can't expect anything legal with these people. It's Africa."
To my way of thinking, the Cambridge Analytica operation explains about ninety percent of both the American and British nightmare scenarios of the last few years: Trump and Brexit. Mr. Wylie was in a position to see the way the company came to be, the disturbing inside track. He is someone wh
Micah Grossman
Oct 31, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: startups
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.
Oct 10, 2019 rated it it was amazing
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  ·  review of another edition
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 c ...more
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 bel
Nov 05, 2019 rated it really liked it
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 co
Oct 17, 2019 rated it did not like it
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.
Horrifying. The title says America, but it is happening everywhere. Hard to think positively after reading this book, very well-written as it is. Might write full review later, but sheesh. I need a hot choco and cuddling with my dog now.
Stephen Kramar
Oct 15, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I’ve read over and over again that our data is the new oil/gold, but never really understood why until I read this book. A truly terrifying tale about how the billionaires are trying to recreate cultures to their way of thinking, and how we are letting them. I think this story needs to be taught to every high school student in America.
A Million Books
Oct 19, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Brilliant. Makes you think, scares you and just an overall stellar explanation and read of the behind the scenes Cambridge Analytica scandal.
Christopher Wylie was the Canadian-born whistleblower of the Cambridge Analytica scandal that rocked Facebook's foundations a couple of years ago. As a self-professed tech-nerd, you may expect his writing to be dry, dense and jargon-filled, but it was not. Although I found Wylie frequently wandered off on tangents from his main storyline, which is somewhat of an apologia for his role in setting social media off on a rather evil course, his tangents are excusable, as there are just so many intere ...more
Tom Walsh
Oct 13, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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.

Brilliantly Scary
Meredith Mara
Dec 01, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Brilliant. And much more insight than Netflix's The Great Hack. Frightening in it's eye-openingness. ...more
Xijian Lim
Nov 12, 2019 rated it it was amazing
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 giv
I was overcome with admiration of the author of this book and how well written it is though I’m sure he had help. Mindf*ck tells Christopher Wylie’s story about his work for Cambridge Analytica and how it affected the BREXIT vote in Great Britain and the 2016 presidential election in the USA. While steadily being taken over by the Russians in the background and Steven Bannon in the foreground, Cambridge Analytica used Facebook to create personality and opinion quizzes to entice people to agree t ...more
Sandra Fish
Dec 28, 2019 rated it liked it
Mixed feelings about this. Wylie seems quite full of himself - he's the center of everything, the mind behind the data of the f*ck, as it were, or so he makes it seem. But there are many points here where the timeline is quite inconsistent, and one British government inquiry noted that Wylie was actually on contract as an intern, and left in July 2014, at a point when much of Cambridge Analytica's meddling in the U.S. elections of 2014 had yet to occur. There's plenty here that just doesn't add ...more
Oct 25, 2019 rated it it was amazing
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.
Apr 06, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
My non fiction read for a change...thoroughly gripping,sometimes the content had me gaping in astonishment. Big brother is the new oil!!
Les Simpson
Nov 01, 2019 rated it it was amazing
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
Andrew Robins
Nov 16, 2019 rated it really liked it
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 Cadwallad
Oct 23, 2019 rated it it was amazing
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
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
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Christopher Wylie has been called “the millennials’ first great whistleblower” and “a pink-haired, nose-ringed oracle sent from the future.” He is known for his role in setting up—and then taking down—Cambridge Analytica. His revelations exposing the rampant misuse of data rocked Silicon Valley and led to some of the largest multinational investigations into data crime ever. Born in British Columb ...more

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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.” 4 likes
“It turns out that Republicans can accept a batshit insane candidate, so long as it’s consistent insanity.” 4 likes
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