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The political and media establishment have whipped themselves into an almighty frenzy over allegations — yet to be confirmed — that Cambridge Analytica may have used improperly-obtained Facebook data during the 2016 election campaign, a charge they strenuously deny.
Online political advertising is now a “dark art,” according to The Guardian. “Data And The Threat to Democracy” is the blunt headline at the BBC. Facebook likes helped Trump “steal the election,” according to a columnist at the Philadelphia Inquirer. In the U.S., lawmakers are calling for an investigation into Facebook, and in the U.K., the authorities are seeking a warrant to raid the offices of Cambridge Analytica.
Outrage - Election - Obama - Campaign - Data
There was no such outrage after the 2012 election, in which the Obama campaign harvested data from Facebook users at a scale that, according to a former senior Obama campaign staffer, shocked Facebook themselves. Although Obama’s data-gathering operation was widely known, the tone of establishment media coverage was casual, even celebratory. Certainly, no-one dared suggest that it constituted a “threat to democracy.”
In their cheerfully-titled report “Obama, Facebook And The Power of Friendship: The 2012 data Election,” The Guardian explained how the Obama campaign harvested data on friend networks from unwitting voters.
Core - Beating - Heart - Computer - Database
At the core is a single beating heart – a unified computer database that gathers and refines information on millions of committed and potential Obama voters. The database will allow staff and volunteers at all levels of the campaign – from the top strategists answering directly to Obama’s campaign manager Jim Messina to the lowliest canvasser on the doorsteps of Ohio – to unlock knowledge about individual voters and use it to target personalised messages that they hope will mobilise voters where it counts most.
Every time an individual volunteers to help out – for instance by offering to host a fundraising party for the president...
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