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Advertising in the Wake of Facebook: Cambridge Analytica Data Scandal (Essay Sample)


You can decide the title accroding to the content
Tonight is the first of several classes on advertising ethics. We'll be exploring the myth of “subliminal seduction” plus the realities of nudity, rude language, bad taste, Benetton photos, Calvin ‘kiddie porn', Citibank bikes—all cultural irritants but relatively insignificant compared to below:
*Facebook's theft of 90 million psychographic profiles —sold to bad actors that resulted in anti-Clinton, pro-Trump messages viewed by millions— may result in possible reforms, government regulations, reworking of the site's all-important business model…or absolutely nothing at all.
*Native advertising and content marketing—which dominate Mara
Einstein's text and form the foundations for her condemnation of advertising's growing control over print news content as well as most social media sites. Tim Wu's text is similarly critical of advertising's “fake news” impact on social as well as traditional media.
* Publicly owned media (television, radio networks/stations) have been totally dominated by advertising since the 1930s and 40s, even though they are licensed by the Federal Communications Commission to broadcast “in the public interest, convenience and necessity.” They rarely have and after their deregulation by President Reagan have concentrated almost entirely on winning the largest possible audiences for marketers, largely through lowest-common-denominator programming.
President Trump's elimination of Wu's net neutrality opens the door to a total dominance of Internet content and messaging by marketers.
*Political campaigns can be financed and won by the candidate with the largest war chest, as NYC Mayor Mike Bloomberg demonstrated over three elections and twelve years, spending over $100 million of his own billion-dollar fortune in mainstream media to crush all opponents.
*Chris Whittle and Channel One (banned in New York and California) use of classroom commercials that middle and upper-school students nationwide have been forced to view every school day for years
*Other substantive issues include Internet privacy…cookies and retargeting…exploitation of women by digital manipulation…language that “misdirects” the consumer in unrealized ways…insensitive/hurtful advertising to LGBT persons
Choose one significant issue that disturbs you. It can be from the above lists OR any other substantive topic from Wu's “Attention Merchants” or Einstein's “Black Ops Advertising” that you clear upfront. You'll define and discuss, using our texts, handouts, guests, classroom content, other secondary sources, even primary interviews as desired.
Think of this as a research paper in which you investigate other sources that support your position. Your hardcopy execution should be 6-7 double-spaced pages, with sources listed or footnoted.


Advertising in the Wake of Facebook–Cambridge Analytica Data Scandal
Historically, advertising industry has heavily relied on technology to develop effective strategies to achieve their goals. In the last decade, there has been unprecedented growth of the social media industry and more private tech companies have been collecting user's data for various reasons. The social media industry has changed the advertising industry and it has toppled traditional media as the best platform for advertising. According to (Marketing Charts, 2017), Online advertising has already overtaken TV advertising in size and the trend seems irreversible in the foreseeable future. However, some players in the media industry have started to use the new platforms to engage in unethical practices. The law hasn't yet caught up with the pace of technological development and advancement and therefore most of these unethical practices are conducted within lawful provisions but not in the interest of the public. One of the recently unearthed case of companies collaborating with the private tech firms who have collected public data to target the public and influence their behavior was the 2016 presidential elections in the United States.
How it was carried out
Cambridge Analytica developed a tool that could harvest the psychographic data of Facebook users and use it to target them with messages. The app used for collecting the data was known as ‘thisisyourdigitallife' that paid users to take a personality test but it was a mask to request the users to grant it permission to access their information. The users unknowingly allowed the app to harvest their personal information including their current location, phone numbers, messages, birthday etc. The app went on to collect over 87 million psychographic profiles of Facebook users according to (CNBC, 2018). Facebook denied knowing the intentions of this app from the beginning and it claims it suspended it but it was only after the story broke. This app did not violate any of Facebook's data or privacy policies. The data collected was used to create a virtual profile of the user and target information to them depending on their likely political inclination.
The firm targeted the public in two ways; for example, if you are pro-Trump, the firm pushed messages and advertisements which painted him in the positive light and showed that indeed he was the right choice for the president. On the other hand, if you are anti-Trump, the firm used subliminal seduction by showing you the ‘bad side' of Clinton. Mostly, it was just but fake news created and propagated by these firms. For example, they would even create ads which showed that former secretary of state Hillary Clinton was sick and could not execute the duties of presidency effectively. They used fake news and manufactured stories to paint the opponent in a bad light. Succinctly, their news feed would be flooded by pro-Trump information. Additionally, Cambridge Analytica has also been linked to pro-Brexit campaigns and Kenyan presidential campaign in 2017. The same strategy was used in Kenya and in the Brexit campaigns which showed the opponent was a danger to the country and the proponent as the ‘right' choice.
The data collected was analyzed to recognize personality traits and sort them into categories which could be targeted by their messages. The aim of these tools was to psychologically manipulate the public to sway their opinion to favor their preferred candidate. The scheme was coupled with manufactured lies on sex scandals, health issues, likelihood of destroying the country through unfavorable policies and other outrageous claims that were meant to scare the voters to at least ditch their preferred ...

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