Cambridge Analytica and the Future of Advertising

Table: BEHAV1100
Experimentation location: Home
Regulated Research (Form 1c): No
Project continuation (Form 7): No

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The following study will attempt to clarify whether a data misuse on the scale of the Cambridge Analytica data scandal could possibly occur again. The scandal misused the online user data of millions of social media users in order to manipulate them and their peers into voting for political candidates without their knowledge or informed consent. Using the aforementioned data, Cambridge Analytica was able to target advertisements at millions of social media users in an attempt to manipulate national elections in countries spanning five continents such as the United States, United Kingdom, Nigeria, and Argentina. The company's executives The study examines phenomena including confirmation bias, fear triggers, and other emotional appeals. Data analyzed in the study show a verifiable possibility of such an event occurring again as the integral factors that enabled the interventions are left unresolved.


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Research Plan:


The experiment attempts to determine whether a misuse of data on the scale of  the Cambridge Analytica scandal could ever occur again and what long-term consequences the scandal may have. Data will be analyzed from publicly available, anonymous, verifiable academic records and scientific journals discussing the event and cross referenced with data on relevant psychological phenomena.

Research Question

Is another data misuse on the scale of the Cambridge Analytica scandal likely?


The data will show that social media users were not fully aware of the extent to which their data was exploited and are inherently susceptible to the tactics used by Cambridge Analytics. Using this information, will be feasible to predict that another breach of similar scale is possible.


  • Data must be cited directly from academic resources and scientific journals to ensure accuracy
  • Disclaimers must be given clearly in order to state the study's potential biases
  • Conclusions must be explained clearly in order to allow for productive discussion and to ensure that they are accurate


  • Data on the scandal will be collated from academic publications and scientific journals
  • The data will be cross referenced with general data on the phenomena they discuss for similarities and abnormalities


  • Extrapolate any conclusions from trends in the data and the studies they are compared to
  • Relate conclusions to the applicable scientific field



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