Podcast, VideoMay 9 2018

Peering Inside the Propaganda Machine

Emma Briant

Databite No. 108

Cambridge Analytica and their parent company SCL Group hit the headlines when, after their work on the Trump campaign, reporting exposed how misuse of Facebook data linked them to ‘Brexit’, unethical conduct in international elections, and revealed their relationship to defense contracting.


Dr. Emma Briant has spent over a decade researching SCL and Cambridge Analytica. She drew on substantial contacts she developed in her work on defense propaganda (Propaganda and Counter-terrorism: Strategies for Global Change, Manchester University Press, 2015) to research an upcoming book, What’s Wrong with the Democrats? Media Bias, Inequality, and the Rise of Donald Trump (co-authored with George Washington University professor Robert M. Entman) and academic publications on the EU referendum.

In this talk, Briant discusses her analysis of the company’s activities in each of these areas, how she gained such unique access to key executives who worked on the campaigns, as well as the implications of the key evidence she submitted to several public inquiries in the UK.

Dr. Emma L Briant is Senior Lecturer in Journalism at University of Essex, UK. Dr. Briant specializes in researching and publishing on the topics of propaganda and international security, and media debates of politics, inequality and human rights. Dr Briant analysed the coordination and increasing impacts of the digitalisation of defence propaganda for her book Propaganda and Counter-Terrorism: Strategies for Global Change (Manchester University Press, 2015), as part of this she spent 11 years researching SCL Group, parent company of the controversial contractor Cambridge Analytica. She is currently a visiting scholar at George Washington University and Georgetown University as she writes a forthcoming co-authored book with Prof. Robert Entman: What’s Wrong with the Democrats? Media Bias, Inequality and the rise of Donald Trump. For her research on propaganda, US politics and ‘Brexit’ she gained unparalleled access to interviews with senior executives at Cambridge Analytica. This formed the basis for important evidence submitted to the UK Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Committee inquiry into Fake News in April 2018 among other public inquiries. Dr Briant’s first book was Bad News for Refugees, (Pluto Press, 2013, co-authored with Greg Philo and Pauline Donald).

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