Web data spies tell politi­cians ev­ery­thing

The Sunday Mail (Queensland) - - PRIVACY FOR SALE - ANNIKA SMETHURST

PO­LIT­I­CAL par­ties are us­ing a range of soft­ware to com­pile pro­files to tar­get mes­sag­ing and iden­tify swing­ing vot­ers.

A plat­form called Na­tionBuilder has been used by the La­bor Party to col­late in­for­ma­tion from Face­book likes and other on­line in­ter­ac­tions.

Na­tionBuilder busi­ness de­vel­op­ment vice-pres­i­dent Toni Cowan-Brown said the most suc­cess­ful par­ties around the globe em­ployed data an­a­lysts.

“You’d be silly not to use them,” Ms Cowan-Brown said.

“Na­tionBuilder doesn’t re­place tra­di­tional cam­paign­ing meth­ods, it en­hances them.

“Door-knock­ing is made eas­ier with walk sheets … show­ing an or­gan­ised list of a neigh­bour­hood’s streets so a vol­un­teer can go from one house to the next in or­der, taking notes about the in­ter­ac­tions they had with each of their neigh­bours.”

Amie Stepanovich, the US pol­icy man­ager for dig­i­tal rights body Ac­cess Now, said data-col­lat­ing firms knew what web­sites you had vis­ited and took in­for­ma­tion from so­cial me­dia to build pro­files.

“They think you fall within a cer­tain in­come group based on your friends, your in­ter­ests and the web­sites you visit,” Ms Stepanovich said.

“Most users will never hear the names of th­ese com­pa­nies or even know that they ex­ist.

“They can ad­ver­tise to spe­cific ages and de­mo­graph­ics, but (also) peo­ple who like cer­tain things or who have vis­ited cer­tain pages.

“When you get down to that level of gran­u­lar­ity, you can cater to spe­cific au­di­ences and those groups might not know they are be­ing tai­lored to.”

Queens­land Univer­sity of Tech­nol­ogy’s Dr Axel Bruns said even vot­ers who shared very lim­ited in­for­ma­tion on­line could be tar­geted.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Australia

© PressReader. All rights reserved.