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Roundtable: "Propaganda Machine -- The Hidden Story of Cambridge Analytica and the Digital Influence Industry"

  • MCK 102 4400 Massachusetts Avenue Northwest Washington, DC, 20016 United States (map)

The first Internet Governance Lab Roundtable of the Spring 2019 semester will kick off with a session featuring Dr. Emma Briant. A postdoctoral scholar at George Washington University’s School of Media and Public Affairs, Dr. Briant’s work focuses on media, political communication and propaganda particularly in relation to international conflicts, social issues like migration, and inequality debates. On January 25, 2019, Dr. Briant will present research from her forthcoming book Creating Cambridge Analytica: Elites, Power and the Global Influence Industry.

Recently, Dr. Briant’s work was cited by members of the Senate Judiciary Committee in their investigation into the role of Cambridge Analytica, SCL Group, and other firms trafficking in the wholesale collection and analysis of user data aimed at political persuasion and propaganda. As Dr. Briant writes,

Whether recent threats have come from home or abroad, they have had a common theme, they sought to amplify tensions caused by inequality which is increasingly a security threat as well as an injustice. Contemporary social media and tools of persuasion allow digital influencers considerable unseen power over the individual. The online architecture of social media encourage the individual to focus on themselves, failing to see their data’s significance within the collective, even as it becomes more and more compulsory to be ‘connected’ and surrender data.

The presentation will take place from 2:00pm to 3:30pm in McKinley 102.

Dr. Emma L Briant is Researcher at the School of Media and Public Affairs. Dr. Briant specializes in researching and publishing on the topics of propaganda and political communication and is most interested in changing technologies and their implications for democracy, international security, inequality and human rights. Dr Briant analysed the coordination and increasing impacts of the digitalization of defense propaganda for her book Propaganda and Counter-Terrorism: Strategies for Global Change (Manchester University Press, 2015). Her 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’ and she continues to work on the latter. For her forthcoming publications on propaganda in the EU Referendum she gained unparalleled access to interviews with senior executives at Cambridge Analytica and Leave.EU. She is currently writing a forthcoming co-authored book with SMPA Professor Robert Entman: What’s Wrong with the Democrats? Media Bias, Inequality and the rise of Donald Trump. 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 Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Committee inquiry into Fake News and Senate Judiciary Committee in 2018 among other public inquiries. She is now consolidating my recent research--which straddles her interests in politics, security and the reproduction of inequality--into a long-term book project tentatively titled: Propaganda Machine: The Hidden Story of Cambridge Analytica and the Digital Influence Industry.



Twitter: @emmalbriant