Dr Emma Briant - Researching Cambridge Analytica: : taking on the digital influence industry
Time & Location
About the Event
Our third and final event of the 2020 Fringe. All talks are online, join us live at the link below and contribute with questions and comments. https://youtu.be/Uuc8HABVWoU
Dr Emma Briant - Researching Cambridge Analytica: taking on the digital influence industry In 2018, Cambridge Analytica and its unethical parent company SCL Group catapulted to international notoriety with far-reaching consequences. Their purchase of millions of Facebook users’ data around the world triggered the second scandal of Facebook’s complicity in monetising personal data. Yet the influence industry of which CA and SCL were a part remains under-researched - academic responses remain reactive, focused on platforms and lacking in self-reflection for academics’ role in the scandal. War on Terror–era legislation enabled a global influence industry to weaponize our digital world for the advancement of profit, power, and political influence.
Powerful actors harnessed the growth of social media, turning the dream of a free internet into a manipulative mass-surveillance nightmare. But governments and private industry – including CA - utilised expertise from academia to advance and enable this propaganda machine.
Dr Briant examines the problematic complicity of academia in the creation of the scandal, its ongoing failure to address the problem of the influence industry in its own ranks and the need to take a more holistic approach to researching influence if we are going to tackle the current threat.
About the speaker: Dr. Emma L Briant is Associate Researcher at Bard College and specialises in researching propaganda, information warfare and political communication. She is most interested in the rapid evolution of contemporary propaganda, its governance and its implications for democracy, security, inequality and human rights.
Dr Briant analysed the coordination and increasing impacts of the digitisation of defence propaganda for her book Propaganda and Counter-Terrorism: Strategies for Global Change (Manchester University Press, 2015). She spent 11 years researching SCL Group and Cambridge Analytica and was central in revealing their wrongdoing in 2018 - this research formed the basis for important evidence submitted to the UK Parliament, US Congressional Committees and Testimony for the European Parliament among other public inquiries.
She is now writing a book on the recent digital governance crisis: Propaganda Machine: Inside Cambridge Analytica and the Digital Influence Industry. Dr Briant’s first book was Bad News for Refugees, (Pluto Press, 2013, co-authored with Greg Philo and Pauline Donald), which examined UK political and media discourse on migration prior to ‘Brexit’.
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