Right now, as the presidential campaigns start moving faster and faster, it's worth taking a look at some of the Facebook data stories from last fall around Cambridge Analytica. Data points sold by Facebook to political campaigns and corporations around the world, are now really swinging into play with political advertising that’s probably reaching hundreds of millions of people. This is not just everyday advertising, this is advertising that's designed to manipulate consumers emotions.
Watching all of the infighting among different Democratic Party candidate supporters in the run-up to the super Tuesday primaries, I've been thinking a lot about a book I've been reading, by Brittany Kaiser, called Targeted: The Cambridge Analytica Whistleblower's Inside Story of How Big Data, Trump, and Facebook Broke Democracy and How It Can Happen Again. The depth of scientific manipulation of the voting public on social media platforms by the Donald Trump presidential campaign was unique. It actually was designed to start fights exactly like what we're seeing play out then and again right now.
Michael Wade's article from two years ago lays it out perfectly:
"Cambridge Analytica was contracted to the Trump campaign and provided an entirely new weapon for the election machine. While it also used demographic segments to identify groups of voters, as Clinton’s campaign had, Cambridge Analytica also segmented using psychographics. As definitions of class, education, employment, age and so on, demographics are informational. Psychographics are behavioural – a means to segment by personality."