In 2018, it was revealed that the defunct political consulting firm Cambridge Analytica had stolen the data of millions of Facebook users. That data was used to create psychological profiles, target US swing voters, and then attempt to manipulate them for then-presidential candidate Donald Trump during the 2016 election. The data breach scandal resulted in the closure of Cambridge Analytica and Facebook paying a $5 billion penalty to the US Federal Trade Commission.
What’s changed since the Cambridge Analytica scandal, and how susceptible are voters to online manipulation? Since the start of January, Cambridge Analytica whistleblower Brittany Kaiser has been publishing documents obtained during her time as the data firm’s business development director. The documents show online manipulation efforts in countries’ elections including Brazil, Kenya and Malaysia.
To what degree will social media shape this year’s US vote? Despite Twitter’s move to ban political advertising and Google’s decision to limit narrowly targeted political ads for its users, Facebook last week announced that it would not change any of its policies on political advertising, and will continue to allow political advertisements that contain falsehoods.
In this episode, we’ll speak to Kaiser and others about the potential threat of online voter manipulation and what should be done to protect the electoral process.
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