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The Cambridge Analytica Scandal, Five Years On

Audio of these conversations is available via your favorite podcast service.

This week’s podcast features two episodes looking back on the Cambridge Analytica scandal, which arguably kicked off when the New York Times and the Guardian published articles on March 17, 2018. The Times headline was “How Trump Consultants Exploited the Data of Millions,” while the Guardian went with “Revealed: 50 million Facebook profiles harvested for Cambridge Analytica in major data breach.”

That number, and the scale of the scandal, would only grow in the weeks and months ahead. It served as a major catalyzing moment for privacy concerns in the social media age. In these two episodes we’ll look back on what has happened since, the extent to which perceptions of what happened have changed or been challenged, and what unresolved questions that emerged from the scandal mean for the future.

In the first episode, I speak with David Carroll, a professor of media design in the MFA Design and Technology graduate program at the School of Art, Media and Technology at Parsons School of Design at The New School. I’ve known David for over a decade, including during the period in which he legally challenged Cambridge Analytica in the UK courts to recapture his 2016 voter profile using European data protection law, events that were chronicled in the 2019 Netflix documentary The Great Hack.

In the second episode, we hear a panel discussion hosted by the Bipartisan Policy Center that I helped moderate at the end of March. The panel featured Katie Harbath, a former Facebook executive who is now a Fellow in the Digital Democracy Project at the Bipartisan Policy Center; Alex Lundry, Co-Founder, Tunnl, Deep Root Analytics; and Matthew Rosenberg, a Washington-based Correspondent for the New York Times and one of the individuals on the byline of that first story on Cambridge Analytica.

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