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The Role of Big Data and Social Media in Political Campaigns and Elections

The big question lies in the way the political campaign is using big data to win elections. Big data and politics trends together, like it or not, since the Cambridge Analytica scandal revealed its presence. The use of big data in a political campaign has been revolutionary.

Big data analytics in political campaigns

Government organizations are in the process of making a deal with big data at international, national and regional levels, and it has become an important issue. It is affecting every area of our lives, including reshaping the way political campaigns are being conducted.

How is big data transforming politics?

To understand how big data is transforming politics, it’s important to understand its relationship with machine learning. While big data in politics gets data at a massive scale, machine learning teaches computers how to “think” to solve complex problems.

Machine algorithms learn and get better as they’re exposed to more data. Take Netflix, for example – algorithms process viewing data to make relevant recommendations.

It may be difficult to see how this relates to politics, but the same concept is in operation no matter what the data itself is about. In politics, the use of smart data gives power. Sophisticated tracking, sorting, sifting, and evaluation of consumer data is being done by firms that sell their insights to politicians. It takes money to run a data-driven campaign.

How is big data involved in political campaigns?

Has technology outpaced politics and caused changes in ways we didn’t expect and are finding difficult to control? Technology is a tool – it can be used for many purposes, including those for which it was not originally intended.

This means that big data in politics can be used in positive or negative ways. It can be used to make or break political campaigns. It’s difficult to really know at this stage how much ad targeting or use of big data will affect campaigns in the future.

Will campaigns with access to huge data stacks and machine learning be able to develop personal experiences that draw in voters in their droves?

Personalized experiences are great when they work, but they can also feel annoying and intrusive – something most politicians would rather avoid at all costs.

The debate over privacy

We are living through uncertain times, and the debate over data privacy continues. The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) addresses issues of data privacy, and more regulations are bound to follow. As consumers, we leave behind a data trail throughout our normal daily online journeys.

This data can be used for many purposes, including offering us recommendations for movies on Netflix or fleshing out far more detailed voter profiles.

How are political campaigns using big data to win elections?

Until recently, campaigns relied on survey data, which was obviously limited. Big data in politics is changing how campaigns are conducted, as more can be known about constituents than ever before. “Without Facebook, Trump wouldn’t have won in 2016, says Theresa Hong, a woman who made real efforts for Trump to win the presidency.

New Trump Campaign Ads

In the next elections in 2020, Joe Biden’s team worked with Civis Analytics, a popular data analytics platform backed by former Google chairman Eric Schmidt. Biden’s team utilized the company’s services to optimize its digital presence and rally its cause. The Facebook ad spend by Donald Trump and Joe Biden stood at a massive $107 million and $94 million, respectively, which is a staggering 2.5 times more than the combined ad spend in the 2016 election ($81 Million).

It is possible to identify likely voters and target them with favorable advertising and content. A candidate knows what typical voters look like, what gender they are, how old they are, where they live, where they shop and more.

Using big data to persuade or manipulate voters

Cambridge Analytica’s highly personalized political research was criticized by those who believe it overstepped the boundary between persuading voters and manipulating them.

With access to enough data, political parties can predict how voters will behave and how they will vote. Campaigns have already developed ways of using big data in politics, and growing data availability accelerates the process.

Having access to detailed information, including the level of education, income, and what type of social level causes their support, can help political campaigns – with a big assist from AI – to make very educated guesses about issues voters are likely to support and express strongly what they feel about them. And this is all completely legal because there is still a lack of regulation in this area.

Data compiled by the US-based Pew Research Center revealed that 20% of social media users admitted to changing their stance on an issue because of what they saw on social media, and 17% said it had changed their opinion about a political candidate. In the 2022 elections in Brazil, a lot of disinformation was reported to be spread on platforms including Meta’s Facebook, YouTube, Telegram and Twitter, which garnered millions of views and re-posts combined. It was said to influence millions of voters. There was no real control over these platforms, so they did nothing to stop the spread of misleading information and false narratives by the followers.

Access to big data makes it easier for candidates to know how people voted and how they’re likely to vote in the future, so they can focus only on their ardent supporters and forget about their opponents.

This means that citizens are treated as consumers, and politicians tell them exactly what they want to hear – not what is necessary or wise.If everything a politician says or does in the public arena is based on big data analysis that tells him or her which words and actions will be popular, how can we be sure about a candidate’s ethics?

Potential positive use of big data in politics and government

Data analytics in politics can be used for the common good, but politicians can also use it for personal gain. Using big data in positive ways in a campaign could make it easier to reach all voters, not just a select few.

It could offer more insights into where to send canvassers door-to-door for maximum effect, how best to reach voters on social media and much more. It’s true that big data helps people to get elected, but it can also help them to do their jobs more efficiently.

Data analytics reshaping politics with big data

Data analytics alone is responsible for bringing a positive change in the business of politics or running a successful campaign. The biggest technological context lies in the fact that politicians use big data to make decisions regarding campaigns and ways to reach the audience.

Foreign ministers can use it to simulate complex trade agreements and predict the effects of uncertain political situations. It can be used to identify potential terrorist threats and give advance warnings about outbreaks of disease.

Healthcare can use it to decide where and when to allocate funds. Even the traffic department can use it to control the flow of traffic.

Widening the horizon

The Cambridge Analytica researchers didn’t view “politics” in a narrow way. They saw politics as just one aspect of identity and looked at consumer data and psychological profiles as well as what “politics”.

Reshaping politics with big data is happening, and it no longer starts and ends with politics. It’s not limited to the US, either. India has utilized big data successfully on many occasions, both at the center and state levels. Emmanuel Macron’s team, through

Liegey Muller Pons (LMP) (website – used it in 2017. It happens in the UK, and many other countries, and many others are slowly learning to harness the data to their advantage. The horizon is widening, and it’s set to bring in newer trends every year.

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