Big Technology

Who Criticizes the Tech Critics? A Meta Talk With ‘Real Facebook Oversight Board’ Members Carole Cadwalladr and Yael Eisenstat

The two join Big Technology to discuss tech criticism, Cambridge Analytica, and how Facebook can begin to right its wrongs

Alex Kantrowitz
Published in
20 min readMar 31, 2021

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Carole Cadwalladr and Yael Eisenstat

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Carole Cadwalladr and Yael Eisenstat are two of the most prominent Facebook critics worldwide. Cadwalladr is the journalist who broke open the Cambridge Analytica story for The Guardian and The Observer. Eisenstat, a former CIA officer, worked on election integrity inside Facebook for six months before quitting and speaking out against the company. The two Facebook critics join Big Technology Podcast to discuss some people’s disenchantment with tech criticism, the role of Facebook’s Oversight Board, and how the company might fix its product.

Alex Kantrowitz: Hi Carole and Yael, let’s start with the criticism of tech criticism. I read this post by Lee Vinsel that argues tech critics are overselling what these companies are capable of. Essentially he says they’re flipping their press releases and adding a dystopian spin. What do you think about that? For instance, could Cambridge Analytica really manipulate us based on the data it collected?

Carole Cadwalladr: That goes to the heart of so many questions. I mean, doesn’t it? Part of the problem is Facebook doesn’t let anybody in. Because it’s proprietary data and methodologies and all the rest of it… we’re not able to send in independent researchers to make those assessments. And that’s one of the huge problems at play.

I think it’s a stretch to suggest that Facebook’s targeting technology doesn’t work, considering that the advertising is a trillion-dollar industry across the world. I personally find it a stretch to believe that…

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Alex Kantrowitz
OneZero

Veteran journalist covering Big Tech and society. Subscribe to my newsletter here: https://bigtechnology.substack.com.