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Yes We Can (Profile You): a Brief Primer On Campaigns and Political Data 48

An anonymous reader writes "In the Stanford Law Review Online, Professor Daniel Kreiss discusses 'the history of political data, focusing on the recent proliferation in voter data and development of new voter-modeling techniques,' and how 'these data practices undermine privacy and democratic practice, even as they increase participation and voter turnout.' He writes: 'Underlying all of this is a vast data infrastructure that has made targeted online advertising and marketing possible, and has contributed to a revival of field campaigning over the last decade. Online advertising and field campaigning rely on voter modeling based on hundreds of data points culled from surveys, public records, and commercial information sources such as credit histories. This data details the location, demographics, political affiliations, social networks, behavior, and interests of citizens.'"
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Yes We Can (Profile You): a Brief Primer On Campaigns and Political Data

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  • by Daniel Dvorkin ( 106857 ) on Friday February 03, 2012 @08:40PM (#38922841) Homepage Journal

    Anyone who wants to predict how I personally will vote in the 2012 election (or any election, really) will have an easy enough time doing so -- because I talk about politics all the time, in person and online, and I don't make any effort to keep my views a secret. This isn't a violation of my privacy, because I chose to put that information out there. As far as using demographic data to decide where to focus campaign efforts, politicians have been doing that as long as there have been elections. The methods they use now may be more sophisticated than they used to be, but it's silly to pretend this is something new and dangerous.

    • by skids ( 119237 )

      I don't make much of a secret of these things, either, but I have to say, none of TFA seems to apply to the people who send me all these "special invitations" to be part of the "Republican Inner Circle." Even if I wasn't a solid registered Democrat it would still be pretty silly to expect anyone in my MA college town to be a mark for these silly scams.

    • by yuna49 ( 905461 )

      Like you, I kept wondering why this surprised anyone. It's not like ward bosses and precinct captains didn't know everything about everyone in their neighborhoods. I suspect their information on each voter was a lot more detailed than you could get from the Facebook or Google profiles, too. I'm also sure they didn't spend much time in 1890 trying to get people to the polls who weren't likely to vote, or to vote their way, either.

      Let's take the author's three points in order. First, he worries about data

    • by Qwertie ( 797303 )
      Politicians aren't interested in one data point, you.

      The problem is this: rich guys who run for high office can now afford to analyze "location, demographics, political affiliations, social networks, behavior, and interests of citizens" and then tell voters in a specific area and demographic exactly what they want to hear. They can then give different messages to different people, and they can perhaps even risk playing different messages that contradict each other to different audiences.

      Since most peo
  • by Anonymous Coward
    It's like when the census chick came by my place.
    She wanted to know all this personal information, but then got all offended when I took my clothes off.
    I just don't get it.
  • Here, I'll help get you started.

    I get my most of my news from Europe, specifically the UK and Germany, and the rest of my news from Japan. Our media in the US is a wasteland that isn't worth reading, and hasn't been for at least the last 20 years.

    I read slashdot for the comments, prefer the BSD license over GPL, and prefer OSX and *BSD over Windows and Linux. I avoid computers whenever I can, even though I make a living dealing with them.

    I watch Formula 1, love sailing, and follow most of the major sailin

    • You fall under the "we don't give a shit because he doesn't vote and never will" category. The most useful information they can acquire is the little bit that tells them if you're for my guy, and I can get you to show up to vote. Past that, it doesn't matter all that much.
      • by fotbr ( 855184 )

        Actually, I vote in every election, and have since I turned 18 and could. I vote on the local ballot issues, since they're the only things that directly affect me.

    • Good to know that there are other rational people on slashdot besides myself. Lately I'd begun to think they'd all left.
    • by unitron ( 5733 )

      But how can we oppress and ridicule you for your beliefs if we don't know what they are?

  • by Maclir ( 33773 ) on Friday February 03, 2012 @09:42PM (#38923307) Journal

    Like in Australia - every person eligible to vote has to enrol and vote. Maybe that would help drown out the extremists?

    • If a person doesn't take an interest in politics and inform himself about what the issues are that distinguish between the candidates, his opinion is of no value.

      You might as well give him a coin to flip when he goes in the voting booth.

      • by Salgak1 ( 20136 )
        . . .after which, someone will discover a conspiracy where someone is handing out rigged coins for voter coin flips.

        My solution: EVERY ballot has a "none of the above" choice. If NOTA gets more than a given percentage (say, 20-30%), ALL the candidates lose, and new candidates would have to run. . .

        • by artor3 ( 1344997 )

          And who governs in the meantime? Don't say "nobody", because the government has some essential functions and we can't just shut down the country every time we don't like the candidates. And if the answer is "whoever is currently in power", then voting "none of the above" is essentially a vote for the incumbent.

        • by cvtan ( 752695 )
          That means there is a chance that all that campaigning will have to be inflicted on the public AGAIN? Forget it.
          • by Salgak1 ( 20136 )
            Well, the point being, it would incentivize politics to stop running such utter douchenozzles as candidates. . .
    • by bky1701 ( 979071 )
      Extremists - yes. Knowledgeable voters more likely to choose a good candidate than a random number generator - also yes.

      I've heard too many stories about pre-vote drinking to take the idea of compulsory voting seriously. That and the fact that the Australian government seems to be one of the most corrupt and extreme western democracies, with their constant efforts at censorship. No, the solution to political problems has to not be "drown out" anyone with noise, but rather make it so the outcome is not ex
    • by larys ( 2559815 )
      That would be nice. I would be concerned over people who don't want to vote feeling bothered with the obligation and intentionally picking people they feel may damage the system -- as a sort of immature show of revenge. I actually know a person (unfortunately) who refuses to vote who would likely do this. Another concern would be, if these people don't want to vote or don't care, what will their choices then be? Simply because they're obligated doesn't mean they'll be informed or make an informed or logical
  • Coupled with the fact that the USA and Canada don't have democracy (proportional voting + multimember electorates), but have FPP instead, things don't look so rosy.
    • This claim about democracies always bothers me, because it rests on the fallacious notion that there is only one kind of democracy.

      Besides, look at Israel, which has an electoral system built on all the great post-war innovations. What happened? Fringe parties end up becoming kingmakers and swinging governments in directions in many cases directly opposed to the views of the majority. Do you consider that a democracy?

      Or what about many European nations, like Germany, where parties form what amount to perman

      • back to school for you. Do you even know what FPP is? It's the system that got Hitler into power. We first need to define terms. Do you have a better defn of democracy, other than the relativist fallacy?
        • Re:Democracy (Score:4, Informative)

          by MightyMartian ( 840721 ) on Saturday February 04, 2012 @12:53AM (#38924421) Journal

          You know, I always love it when some fucking retard tries to lecture me about how Hitler came to power. The Nazis did not have a plurality of seats in the Reichstag. The reason Hitler came to power is because von Papen told Hindenburg that Hitler could be controlled, and thus convinced the ailing (and increasingly senile) President to name Hitler Chancellor. Hitler wasn't elected to that position because he did not command a majority in the Reichstag.

          Maybe you need to learn something about how parliaments work, fucktard.

          • Primary school maths. You still show no evidence of understanding FPP. 5 candidates put themselves up for election. They get A 21% B 20% C 20% D 20% E 19% Everyone who doesn't vote for A, puts A last - that's 79% (and for obvious reasons I'll refrain from calling you names) Do you seriously think electing A is democratic by any reasonable definition?
            • by micheas ( 231635 )

              My estimates are that first past the post are mostly partisan contests (in the US). Most non-partisan races are true run off elections that tend to produce drastically different results than first past the post.

Garbage In -- Gospel Out.