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Prying Open The Propaganda Machine

Updated: Mar 13

Dr. Emma L. Briant is the author of ‘Propaganda and Counter-terrorism: Strategies for Global Change.‘ Co-author of ‘Bad News for Refugees.’ Briant examines the ethics, norms, subcultures and uses/abuses of power in relation to the emergent practice in propaganda within and by democracies.

The internet was meant to facilitate communication and strengthen democracy worldwide. However, as propaganda scholar Dr. Emma L. Briant reveals, powerful actors harnessed the growth of social media, turning the dream of a free internet into a manipulative mass-surveillance nightmare. War on Terror–era legislation enabled a global influence industry to weaponize our digital world for the advancement of profit, power, and political influence.

In 2018, Cambridge Analytica and its unethical parent company SCL Group catapulted to international notoriety with far-reaching consequences. Their purchase of millions of Facebook users’ data around the world triggered the second scandal of Facebook’s complicity in monetizing personal data. Yet the story of Cambridge Analytica and SCL Group remains poorly understood. With early access to interviews—many conducted before the scandal—and exclusively obtained documents, Dr. Briant offers a groundbreaking investigation of both companies and how extensive data harvesting, black ops methods, psychographic techniques, voter suppression and fear-driven messaging were deployed everywhere from the Caribbean to the Middle East, to Africa and Eastern Europe, and to the U.S. and United Kingdom.

The actions of SCL and Cambridge Analytica affected millions globally, transforming public understanding of political and social life; still, our governments fail to regulate this industry, threatening democracy itself. Dr. Briant’s upcoming book; Propaganda Machine offers unprecedented insight into an age of digital surveillant propaganda, making an impassioned plea for policy-makers to protect democracy before it’s too late.

View Dr. Briant’s presentation at the NVRTF ’19;

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