The use of big data to influence election outcomes been highly controversial.
It is no coincidence that the same company, Cambrige Analytica, stands behind the success of Trump’s online election campaign as well as behind the Brexit campaign. Trump paid $5 million in September alone to Cambridge Analytica to help him influence voters and target non-voters in his Presidential campaign.
The company uses psychometrics, a scientific attempt to measure a person’s personality, to create psychological profiles. In order to create these profiles, the company gathers personal data on potential voters on Facebook and other platforms, such as “likes” in order to predict their attitudes and beliefs. The company claims to have data on 230 million Americans and around 4 000 “data points” on each of them.
Based on the profiles created they personalize campaign ads for each individual. The data-driven psychometric micro-targeting model allowed Trump’s campaign to reach voters in the key states of Pennsylvania, Michigan and Wisconsin that delivered his majority over Democrat Hillary Clinton.
A report by Bloomberg/BusinessWeek also said that the Trump campaign used micro-targeting to deliver negative messages on Facebook, reminding them of Clinton’s comments and “super predators” seen as insulting to the African-Americans with the aim to depress turnout.
Cambridge Analytica has also played a role in the strategic momentum of the pro-Brexit “Leave.eu” campaign by targeting Brits who usually don’t vote. Although this kind of big data usage can help to deliver more focused marketing and campaign efforts; Cambridge Analytical has been criticised for its borderline ethical use of personal data.
Will a British big data company win Trump the U.S. election?
A British firm which helped deliver Brexit is working for Donald Trump’s campaign
3 thoughts on “Without Big Data No Trump?”
Nice summary and article! It does make you think and wonder where all of this is going. With a few social media platforms being so powerful and influential things could turn dark pretty fast. I for one deactivated my app functions on Facebook, no need to share my likes and contacts with third parties… Give it a couple of years and mark Zuckerberg himself could become president with no effort. Not that he would ever want that or that it would neccessarily be a bad thing…
however I don’t think companies like Cambridge Analytica are the problem, rather how we consume information. We get more and more of the same everyday. While it is very convenient to only get relevant and personally interesting information it does skew peoples view on the world even further. Everyone winds up in their own little personalized news world and at least on one side of the spectrum someone has recognized this and managed to pull some into the same bubble;
I aggree with the fact that people get more and more divided by the personalized news world. This however should not necessarily be a bad thing. As long as the individuals are aware that there view is not the full picture.
The problem today is that most people are not (yet) aware that they are targetted individuals, leaving the door open for manipulation. This is why I think Cambridge Analytica and companies like it can very well cause problems. Not because what they are doing is shady or controversial, but because it is targetting people who are not aware of the fact that they are getting influenced in a very personlized manner. People who do not know this are probably not looking further than their personalized news feed, making a seemingly neutral voter a biased one.
Lovely – Big Data is the future, so we have to be part of it. It’s scary as well, unfortunately.
But I would like to focus on the positive side of things.So I recommend a related article about the Netflix prediction competition: http://techblog.netflix.com/2012/04/netflix-recommendations-beyond-5-stars.html