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Join us for a discussion of the documentary The Great Hack, a NetFlix original documentary of the Cambridge Analytica scandal. (Release date TBD)
In 2018, Cambridge Analytica became a potent symbol of social media’s dark side. Funded by conservative mega-donor Robert Mercer and tied to former Trump strategist Steve Bannon, the company claimed to micro-target voters with “military-grade” psychological manipulation tactics. It was (dubiously) credited with helping Donald Trump win the 2016 presidential election, as well as helping pass the UK Brexit referendum.
Then, a former employee revealed that Cambridge Analytica had secretly acquired data from millions of Facebook users around 2014, taking advantage of Facebook’s lax privacy rules. Soon after, the UK’s Channel 4 ran a sting operation that captured CEO Alexander Nix discussing underhanded political influence tactics, including offering bribes to a candidate.
The resulting scandal raised broad concerns about data privacy and targeted advertising, triggering numerous government hearings and widespread condemnation of Facebook. Cambridge Analytica denied any wrongdoing, but its reputation was damaged beyond repair, and the company shut down in May of 2018.