Election campaigns should be fought in the open. Voters should freely make up their minds on the basis of arguments openly presented. This is a principle fundamental to the workings of democracy; but some forms of online advertising threaten to subvert it. In particular, micro-targeted advertising where the message is only seen by a carefully selected audience makes it too easy for politicians to make incompatible promises to different audiences, without anyone being able to check and correlate all of their messages. More worrying still is the claim that it aids the production of carefully targeted voter suppression ads, designed not to persuade people to vote for one party, but not to vote at all.
By their nature these claims are hard to check. Despite the excellent work being done by groups such as Who Targets Me, we don’t know and can’t at present measure the extent of such advertising. The kind of people interested in tracking it are very unlikely to be the recipients of the messages they are interested in. The “filter bubbles” in which voters of interest can be found are very small indeed. Even so, 11,000 volunteers recorded more than 3,000 distinct ads on Facebook in this campaign. These are distinct from the propaganda material that was freely shared, such as the Momentum video showing a banker and a nurse with rather different perspectives on Conservative austerity. That sort of openly and spontaneously spread material has to be worth more than a message that only reaches paid audiences. In the end, no advertising campaign, no matter how slick, can persuade large numbers of something they know will work to their disadvantage.Continue reading...
from Advertising | The Guardian http://ift.tt/2tdUD3i