[3/26/18] – Facebook, Cambridge Analytica, and Elections

Facebook was accused of exposing data on 50 million Facebook users with Cambridge Analytica, a data analytics firm that was working with the Trump campaign.

Instructors, click the link below to download this week’s lecture for use in your classroom. The deck contains a writing prompt, a debate question, as well as other assessment questions.

Download the PowerPoint Lecture Spark for Facebook, Cambridge Analytica, and Elections



Here’s everything you need to know about the Cambridge Analytica scandal

Trump campaign sprints away from Cambridge Analytica

House committee will summon Zuckerberg to testify

Here’s why the Facebook-Cambridge Analytica controversy matters


  •  Writing: Explain why some users are choosing to delete their Facebook accounts.
  •  Debate: If you choose to use private social media firms, should you be willing to give up some of your privacy?
  •  Poll:  How many of you receive political information from the following:
    • Facebook
    • Twitter
    • Instagram
    • Snapchat
  • Short Answer: Is the main concern with the Cambridge Analytica scandal that data was used to target voters or that Facebook’s privacy policies are lacking strength?

Current Events Quiz

1) Microtargeting voters is a fairly recent phenomena in American politics. (T/F)

2) Relatively few American adults use Facebook. (T/F)

3) Cambridge Analytica has been involved in data mining and microtargeting for campaigns around the world. (T/F)

4) Much of the concern over Cambridge Analytica and Facebook’s use of data is

a. The cost to campaigns to advertise on social media using the data
b. The blurred lines between persuasion and manipulation
c. Due to the relative newness of microtargeting techniques
d. All of the above

5) Microtargeting is the process of

a. Paying firms for data

b. Deciding how much to spend on television advertising

c. Identifying blocs of voters based on their characteristics

d. Providing legal defenses for contested elections