Facebook started out as a network that helped you search for and discover your childhood friends, and ended up raising and lowering governments. How can someone use your Facebook data to change the voting results in the next elections? How can Facebook influence the elections?
First of all, let's see why analysts love Facebook. Although full of memes and videos with cats, the strategy coordinators of a political campaign find a lot of interest.
Personal information is the kind of data that is necessary for political actors who want to plan how to influence the masses, and how to improve their political campaign-rhetoric.
In order to win the election, a political party must show that it is close to what is really happening. The public has fears, concerns and expectations for their country and their lives. If a political party can accurately recognize all this, it can use it to win the election.
Facebook is a great way to analyze these different demographics. From hobbies, to career choices to political thoughts issues, someone interested can glean a lot of useful information from Facebook that they can use to influence voters.
How is Facebook data collected?
Facebook records any information given by each profile. Photos, friends lists, likes, notifications, posts, and more. Political analysts need more information, and of course the platform can make it available in many different ways.
How many times have you come across a personality test that measures certain elements: openness, conscientiousness, agreeableness, extroversion and nervousness. These five characteristics can be used to create a psychological profile. Thus they "allow" users to make their data available for free.
A personality test lets you answer some personal questions because researchers want to know which Harry Potter character suits you best. Test participants can share the results with their friends, who then take the test themselves.
So analysts create tests that ask for these five characteristics mentioned above. Analyzing the data, along with all the other information that a profile has, can create a psychological profile that is a little far from reality.
How do campaigns use data?
When analysts create the profiles of a country's citizens, we move on to the next section. Advertising. Advertising campaigns will have a psychological map that tells them what you like, what you are afraid of and what your expectations are of a new government.
Έτσι οι διαφημιστές μπορούν πια με περισσότερη better safety to use these points in targeted advertisements that show you information related to your profile.
For example, if your psychological profile shows that you are afraid of crime, you will see ads claiming that the political party has as its main goal to fight crime. If family is important to you, you will see ads stating that the candidate political party will take care of family cohesion.
How did Facebook influence the 2016 US election?
To see if all of the above work, let's remember what happened in the US election in 2016. There are many who claim that President Donald Trump would never do such a thing and that he won the election fairly.
Η Cambridge Analytica (CA) offered a very large influence on the Trump campaign. The company specializes in creating psychological profiles of users for better targeting of ads. So the Republican Party collaborated with the CA on Trump's campaign.
But before we got to Donald Trump, Cambridge Analytica already had one base δεδομένων για τους Αμερικάνους πολίτες. Μία από τις πιο επιτυχημένες πηγές συλλογής αυτών των δεδομένων ήταν ένα κουίζ που ονομάζεται “This is Your Transformation Life". This particular quiz asked users questions about their personality and their lives.
320.000 people took this quiz, as reported by The Straits Times. However, in 2015, Facebook data privacy was not as strict as it is now. Thus the quiz could gather information about the friends and contacts of each participant without his permission. This resulted in the creation 50 million profiles from a quiz.
Prior to the election, Cambridge Analytica used these profiles for marketing purposes only. After the company was approached by the Republican Party, it began using the data to guide the election campaign to target the right people.
To date, no one really knows how influential Cambridge Analytica was in the 2016 US election.
In any case, her scandal Cambridge Analytica was so big, that the company was finally forced to close in May 2018.
The documentary The Great Hack was released in 2019 and is related to the Facebook-Cambridge Analytica data scandal. It premiered at the 2019 Sundance Film Festival in the Documentary section and was released by Netflix on July 24, 2019. We highly recommend you to watch it.
How effective was this targeted advertising campaign?
There is no substantial evidence that Cambridge Analytica greatly influenced the vote. There is no document or statistic to prove that targeted ads changed voters' minds.
What is known, however, is that Cambridge Analytica used data from Facebook to help a political campaign. Whether the attempt was successful or not, the point is that it happened. So if you are worried about this you should take immediate steps to protect your data online.
If you have an issue with all of the above and are still using Facebook, unfortunately there is no one to help you. Facebook is a goldmine for Companies who want to collect and use your data against you.
The best way to stop companies from collecting data from your profile is to eliminate it.
Personality quizzes are fun, but you do not know who is behind it. Innocent questions like "Which superhero are you" essentially ask for very personal information. If of course the questionnaire starts asking for your email, name, date of birth or any other personal information, it would be good to close it immediately.