Forthcoming Book Project


Propaganda Machine

Inside Cambridge Analytica and the Digital Influence Industry

Emma L. Briant


An explosive look at Cambridge Analytica, the weaponization of our everyday online activities, and the grave threat to democracy posed by an industry that is still largely unaccountable for its crimes.


The internet was meant to facilitate communication and strengthen democracy worldwide. However, as propaganda scholar Dr. Emma L. Briant reveals, powerful actors harnessed the growth of social media, turning the dream of a free internet into a manipulative mass-surveillance nightmare. War on Terror–era legislation enabled a global influence industry to weaponize our digital world for the advancement of profit, power, and political influence.

In 2018, Cambridge Analytica and its unethical parent company SCL Group catapulted to international notoriety with far-reaching consequences. Their purchase of millions of Facebook users’ data around the world triggered the second scandal of Facebook’s complicity in monetizing personal data. Yet the story of Cambridge Analytica and SCL Group remains poorly understood. With early access to interviews—many conducted before the scandal—and exclusively obtained documents, Dr. Briant offers a groundbreaking investigation of both companies and how extensive data harvesting, black ops methods, psychographic techniques, voter suppression and fear-driven messaging were deployed everywhere from the Caribbean to the Middle East, to Africa and Eastern Europe, and to the U.S. and United Kingdom.


The actions of SCL and Cambridge Analytica affected millions globally, transforming public understanding of political and social life; still our governments fail to regulate this industry, threatening democracy itself. Propaganda Machine offers unprecedented insight into an age of digital surveillant propaganda, making an impassioned plea for policy-makers to protect democracy before it’s too late.

Praise for Propaganda Machine and my Cambridge Analytica research:

Prof Dwayne Winseck, Carleton University, Canada: “Smart, grounded and incisive analysis of the persuasion industries w/o accepting those industries’ own aggrandizing claims about their powers.”

Prof. Aram Sinnreich, American University, USA

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Forthcoming Book Project

Briant, E L & Entman, R, M (forthcoming) What’s wrong with the Democrats? Media bias, inequality and the rise of Donald Trump

About the book:

In this book we document how over several decades a failure by The Democratic Party to fully deliver policies that would halt rising economic inequality, was reinforced by a growing inability to communicate these policies among key communities. Within a context of mainstream media bias and Republican communicative strength, we show how Democrats’ own failures allowed the rising perception of their elitism and ‘distance’ from working class America. In 2016 Donald Trump exploited this skilfully, harnessing new media and right-wing populism to seize the presidency and expose a divided America. We illustrate the major communication failures that led to The Democrats’ loss in 2016, failures that they need to address if they are to build a unifying identity and effectively communicate progressive economic policies to working class and middle class American voters.


Brief Methodology:

Analysis of key areas of debate during the elections from 2000 until 2017 using content analysis; Audience research; Interviews from the 2016 Democratic campaign including with leading politicians, campaign officials and grassroots activists.


Previous Books:


Emma Louise Briant (2015) ‘Propaganda and Counter-terrorism: Strategies for Global Change‘ Manchester: Manchester University Press.

About the book

A unique account of how the British and United States Governments attempted to adapt their propaganda strategies for counter-terrorism in a post-9/11 global media environment is revealed in a new book by Dr Emma Briant. The book interrogates the structural and cultural development of the propaganda apparatus in the two countries. It illuminates how, through Anglo-American coordination and domestic struggles, planners brought in far-reaching changes to propaganda, worked around barriers and restrictions, and redefined ‘legitimate’ propaganda function for the present day. The author highlights a compelling need for an independent and public reexamination of continuing strategy development – both for government accountability and to create systems and policies that both respect citizens and build constructive foreign relations. The book’s themes will engage a wide readership including scholars, PR professionals and government personnel.

Endorsements from cover

Professor Robert W. McChesney, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign: 

“Emma Briant’s Propaganda and counter-terrorism is a superb analysis of the propaganda provided by the governments of the United States and United Kingdom in present times. It is thoroughly researched and contextualized, and offers fresh insights into the great risks these practices hold for democracy. This sophisticated book should be mandatory reading for anyone with an interest in the subject.”

Geoffrey Robertson, QC:

“Truth, the first casualty in war, has been a major victim in the war on terror. This ground-breaking book takes us to the areas the law does not reach: propaganda, psy-ops and the manipulation of stories about enemies, real and imaginary. What use indeed is a law against the CIA telling lies to US newspapers, when they can tell them to foreign media and have them blown-back? A well-written account of spook-to-spook relations between Washington and London, from Philby to Snowden.” Geoffrey Robertson QC

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bnfr cover

Greg Philo, Emma Louise Briant & Pauline Donald (2013) ‘Bad News for Refugees‘ London: Pluto Press.

About the book

Bad News for Refugees analyses the political, economic and environmental contexts of migration and looks specifically at how refugees and asylum seekers have been stigmatised in political rhetoric and in media coverage. Through forensic research it shows how hysterical and inaccurate media accounts act to legitimise political action which can have terrible consequences both on the lives of refugees and also on established migrant communities.Based on new research by the renowned Glasgow Media Group, Bad News for Refugees is essential reading for those concerned with the negative effects of media on public understanding and for the safety of vulnerable groups and communities in our society.

Sample Reviews

“The Group’s new book, Bad News for Refugees, tackles the creation by the media and politicians of a climate in which ‘refugee’ and ‘asylum’ have become dirty words, synonymous with ‘cheat’, ‘liar’, ‘scrounger’ and of course ‘illegal immigrant’ – and the effect of this wholesale and systematic vilification on settled minority communities as well as on the refugees and asylum seekers themselves.”

“Most of those who will read this book will be aware of the relentlessly negative coverage of asylum issues by most of the national media for at least the past two decades. Where the book excels is in providing systematic, in-depth analysis which activists can use to demonstrate how such coverage effectively manufactures ‘public opinion’, which is used to justify more and more draconian treatment of asylum seekers.”

Review by Retired Human Rights Lawyer and Vice Chair of the Institute for Race Relations Frances Webber 26 September 2013 – New Left Project 

“This is an enormously important book that documents with meticulous scholarship the way in which immigrants have been stigmatised by the British media. It offers a compelling analysis of what is omitted from media accounts, which voices are left unheard, how simplifications and stereotypes are generated, and the consequences of this prejudiced reporting for immigrant communities who feel themselves to be under constant attack.”

Review by Professor James Curran, Goldsmiths, University of London (from Cover)


For more reviews see Media