First Proof That Facebook Dark Ads Could Swing An Election

In Media, Misleading Information, Voting On

COULD Facebook really tip the balance in an election? Over the past year, firms like AggregateIQ and Cambridge Analytica have been credited with using AI-targeted ads on social media to help swing the Brexit referendum and the US presidential election respectively. But a lack of evidence meant we have never known whether the technology exists to make this possible.

A study detailing the process from start to finish is finally providing some insight. “This is the first time that I’ve seen all the dots connected,” says Joanna Bryson, an AI researcher at the University of Bath, UK.

At the heart of the debate is psychographic targeting – the directing of political campaigns at people via social media based on their personality and political interests. It is aided by vast amounts of data filtered by artificial intelligence.

“You don’t need to move people’s political dials by much to influence an election”

Facebook doesn’t explicitly provide the tools to target people based on political opinions – but the new study shows how the platform can be exploited. Using combinations of people’s interests, demographics and survey data, it’s possible to direct campaigns at individuals based on their acceptance of ideas and policies. This could have a big impact on the success of campaigns.

Read full New Scientist article

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