We have a big-picture conversation today that is a fascinating look at social media, data protection, privacy, accountability and much more. Our guest is Paul-Olivier Dehaye. Paul is a Swiss-based mathematician who helped lift the lid on the Cambridge-Analytica / Facebook scandal. He has extensive expertise in and has conducted research on how social media platforms predict our behaviour and can create dangerous amplification patterns.
If you have seen the acclaimed Netflix documentary The Great Hack (and if you haven’t, I highly recommend you do), you will have come across Paul. He was instrumental in helping one of that documentary’s protagonists – New York-based media professor David Carroll – try to obtain the data Cambridge Analytica held about him. He had been looking at how Cambridge Analytica had been violating EU data protection rules well before both the Brexit referendum in the UK and the 2016 US elections. He has subsequently provided testimony to the UK parliament on this topic.
He has actually been looking at how social media platforms trade in and handle data for some time – not just by Facebook but several other firms. He is the founder of personaldata.io a non-profit that promotes digital rights and trust the digital world. It aims to help people control their digital identity.
We get into all of that and more in this fascinating conversation that covers:
- Social media and behaviour prediction;
- How amplification patterns work;
- How Cambridge Analytica first came onto his radar, how he researched the firm and what he found (again, this is before the Brexit referendum and 2016 US elections);
- Facebook – what the company is and is not doing well in light of all of this. How it is “shooting itself in the foot”. Paul had focused a lot on Facebook because it has been profoundly changing social dynamics around the world;
- We also discuss other social platforms, particularly Uber and Tinder;
- The “physics” of social media – and how we don’t really fully understand who this works;
- Solutions and why many of these like in individuals’ rights to access the data companies have on them;
- Generic risks we face as we move to an algorithmic society;
- Much more!
Paul-Olivier on Twitter
Article on James Farrar: “The Londoner Who Brought Uber to its Knees”
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