Re: Data collection on voters
“The data dumps from the DNC and RNC both contain data that shows that *both* parties have collected quite a large (and from all accounts, quite accurate) dataset on potential voters, mainly focused on what issues are important to them. These have clearly been in existence for a few years, and have obviously been used in campaigns.”
Political parties have always tried to keep extensive records regarding voter intentions. Historically, this has been provided by local political party members talking to people (campaigning), however, getting this information has become harder as the number of people willing to devote time to their party has reduced and people have become busier, making this method less reliable than it has been. Step forward big data to provide the miracle solution....
Google (who assisted the Democrats during Obama’s and Clinton campaigns) and Cambridge Analytics that appear to have “exploited” Facebook data to help the Republicans. I use “exploited” because I’m unsure if they have done anything more than use Facebook apps to hoover up friends data from Facebook in the same way that the non-political click baity quizzes and other crap do to sell advertising. I.e. is this a Facebook platform issue or just a rogue company?
From what we have seen from security agencies, we know that anonymised metadata can be used to track individuals to a remarkably accurate level. While your FB (or other social media platform) profile may seem fairly generic, if your details can be grabbed from a friend or friend of a friend (or they’re just public...), then making maps of voting intentions may be easier than the door-to-door campaigning method and make politics even more of a “who has the most money?” game.
The questions are:
- is CA an isolated case or are their others?
- is big data really the game changer in politics that is being suggested? While the marketeers say yes, they’re the ones that get paid for the magic snake oil (also see pollsters)
- looking at the UK, did big data make a difference to either the EU referendum or the last election? I think both results were surprises, but certainly in the case of the last election, strong local efforts swung people back to Labour, although a poor Tory campaign helped too...
- will this finally make us think more about our privacy?