A lesson in PR ethics, courtesy of ‘The Great Hack’

The Netflix documentary explores the depth of the Cambridge Analytica scandal and its long-term repercussions. The author extracts key takeaways for industry professionals. 

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If you have not watched Netflix’s new documentary “The Great Hack,” immediately schedule a date with your couch and TV, and watch. 

Over the course of two hours, the documentary explores how Cambridge Analytica, a data research group, obtained private information on citizens in the United States and Great Britain with the purpose of creating marketing and public relations content during the 2015 Brexit Vote and 2016 U.S. presidential election.

 “The Great Hack” raises many ethical red flags that public relations professionals must address. Here are five of the most important:

In “The Great Hack,” big data company Cambridge Analytica built profiles of citizens and voters in Great Britain and the United States to create personalized content to influence their feelings on issues and candidates. 

The company was able to access data on 87 million people. The information helped Cambridge Analytica identify “persuadable voters.” From there, the firm targeted blogs, websites, articles, videos and ads specifically at those voters until they saw the world the way Cambridge Analytica wanted them to.

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