Time To Bury Cambridge Analytica
I guess we could have put an egg timer on this one. Yesterday Cambridge Analytica’s British parent company SCL Elections announced its subsidiary would file for bankruptcy. As you know Cambridge Analytica was the firm who exploited Facebook’s user data in the now infamous user privacy scandal. Even with yesterday’s news the company tried to keep a stiff upper lip in their public statement on the matter. “Over the past several months, Cambridge Analytica has been the subject of numerous unfounded accusations and, despite the company’s efforts to correct the record, has been vilified for activities that are not only legal, but also widely accepted as a standard component of online advertising in both the political and commercial arenas.” Am I the only one, or does this feel like some serious corporate tap dancing to you?
Regardless of whether you believe Cambridge Analytica was the perpetrator or the victim here, the sheer toxicity of the firm’s reputation sealed its fate. Digital publishers, whose data they leached, won’t go within a mile of them anymore. And candidates can’t use Cambridge Analytica for fear of the PR taint they could get from being associated with the firm. So bankruptcy was the inevitable conclusion.
The only thing that still worries me about this story is that CA’s personnel and methods aren’t also leaving the industry. These guys will find new jobs in other political consultancies and potentially disseminate some of these bad practices across the industry. Let’s hope the hard lessons learned from this episode are enough of a deterrent against future attempts.