- Laura Battisti
Women in the Arts: Carole Cadwalladr
Updated: Oct 19, 2021
Carole Cadwalladr is a fascinating woman. She is a British investigative journalist and writer and currently writes for ‘The Observer’. Cadwalladr is best known for exposing the Facebook-Cambridge Analytica scandal in 2018.
This work actually made her a Pulitzer Prize finalist for National Reporting in 2019. Moreover, her first novel 'The Family Tree' was shortlisted for the 2006 Commonwealth Writer’s Prize Award and was highly praised by British media.
However, Carole Cadwalladr is much more than just awards and prizes. She is a powerful and resilient woman who keeps on showing the world that being brave pays off. In the last few years, she had to face a lot of online abuse due to her journalistic endeavours. Still, she continues to face corporate giants such as Facebook and Google and also (mostly pro-Brexit and far-right) political parties.
Woman warrior – the battle against powerful bodies
As can be seen by her impressive repertoire of award nominations, it is clear that she is an amazing journalist and writer. Of course, what put her on the radar for most people was her articles about the company Cambridge Analytica published in The Guardian in March 2018. She, together with whistle-blower Christopher Wyle, exposed how Cambridge Analytica exploited Facebook’s data to influence the US election in 2016.
This showed that Facebook had massive security leaks and how easy it is for corporate giants to manipulate world-changing decisions. Of course, after the story was published, everything changed. An investigation was opened which resulted in the resignation of Cambridge Analytica’s CEO, Mark Zuckerberg’s appearance before US Congress, and Facebook’s loss of more than $100 billion of its share price.
Moreover, Cadwalladr is also openly and proudly Pro-EU and Anti Brexit. In fact, she also investigated campaign finance violations by the Brexit campaign group LEAVE.EU, which resulted in Britain’s Electoral Commission fining them £61,000.
However, it was not only positives which followed her investigations. In fact, Carole Cadwalladr soon became (and sadly still is) – a, as she herself put it, ‘cultural war hate figure’. This is not only due to her articles on Cambridge Analytica and Brexit but also her opinions on how the UK government handled COVID-19. The amount of malign and misogynistic behaviour directed towards her is appalling.
A chapter within the UNESCO report ‘The Chilling: Global trends in online violence against women journalists, which focused on Carole Cadwalladr, highlighted the abuse she had to endure. Of nearly 2.1 million English language tweets directed at Cadwalladr between December 2019 and January 2021, 10,400 tweets were identified as clearly abusive, i.e. overtly offensive and demeaning. An astounding 40% of those tweets were explicitly sexist and misogynistic, showing that the belittling of women still seems to be the go-to tactic when wanting to discredit their work.
What is incredibly inspiring, though, is her reaction. She formed support networks with other women journalists who also experienced social media abuse. This goes to show how incredibly resilient and brave Cadwalladr is. Instead of giving in and giving powerful bodies their way, she keeps fighting for the greater good of freedom of speech and education. She truly is a woman warrior.
Bold, bolder, Carole Cadwalladr
The word multifaceted gets a new meaning when speaking about Carole Cadwalladr. On top of her incredible investigative work, she is also a brilliant author. Her debut novel ‘The Family Tree’ is a feminist work showcasing the life of a middle-class English family after the women’s liberation movement. It explores the themes of family relationships, 70s pop culture, feminism, and science, showcasing that life is as multidimensional as Cadwalladr herself.
Carole Cadwalladr truly is an incredible woman. Her efforts to make the world a more transparent and liberal place are inspiring. She shows people all around the world that taking chances and being bold – while it can be challenging, as noted by her experience with social media abuse – is worth it.
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Edited by Olena Strzelbicka