Profs and Pints Presents: "The Cambridge Analytica Threat," with Alan Rosenblatt, professor of political science at Johns Hopkins, George Washington, and American Universities and pioneer in the use of digital media for public affairs.
Most of us knew nothing about Cambridge Analytica until March, when news broke that the British political consulting firm had been using data collected from Facebook to learn plenty about many of us. The revelation that the company acquired personally identifiable data on tens of millions of Facebook users for political purposes has given rise to a major scandal. Congress has launched an investigation, Facebook has watched its stock price become volatile, and new questions are being raised about President Trump's 2016 election victory and Britain's Brexit vote.
The coverage of this story tends to misrepresent the facts in several key ways. For example, the data was not collected by Cambridge Analytica from Facebook, but by Cambridge University researchers in compliance with Facebook rules that have since been changed. Facebook users who installed the myPersonality app opted into the data collection process, meaning the legal onus was on them to read the disclosure form before they installed the app and started sharing their personality information. As lawyers will tell you, "read the fine print."
What is Cambridge Analytica, and what, exactly, did it do? Are we seeing the emergence of the Big Brother that Orwell warned us about, or dealing with something much more benign? If people are putting themselves at risk via Facebook, what can they do to protect themselves? Is privacy dead for all but the unplugged?
Alan Rosenblatt., an expert on political social media who last fall gave a great Profs and Pints talk on bots, trolls, and fake news, returns to the Bier Baron Tavern to break down the Cambridge Analytica crises. He'll help you understand the players and technology involved, the responses that are being considered, and the other privacy risks surrounding us or on the horizon. He'll also discuss what, if anything, we can do to protect ourselves and the integrity of our political system. (Tickets $10 in advance and $12 at the door.)