Facebook’s New Partnership With Political Candidates Is Kind of Creepy

Don’t yet know whom you’re voting for next year? That’s okay, Facebook will probably have some suggestions. The social media platform has already gathered all sorts of information on your interests and political views and is willing to sell that data to political candidates who want to win your vote, reports PBS. 

Political analysts expect next year’s candidates to spend at least $1 billion, and it’s safe to say that Facebook is counting on a sizable portion of that money going into its own pockets. In preparation for the 2016 election, Facebook has doubled the number of staffers that are part of its “government and politics” team. Along with the growing staff comes a growing number of Facebook features that candidates can use to win over potential supporters.

The most monumental new feature is that candidates’ teams can now easily upload a list of names of potential voters they’re specifically targeting and match them to their Facebook accounts. Now, potential voters that won’t answer the door for canvassers or toss campaign flyers similarly to junk mail can be reached reliably electronically instead.

Actually, candidates don’t even need your name or email address to find you. Candidates often use a special HTML code to track visitors to their campaign pages and can use that code to link back to people’s Facebook pages that way, too. The thought is that if you were ever curious about a candidate, there’s a good chance you might vote for them or – equally as important – donate to their campaign with further prodding through customized ads placed on a website most users already visit every day.

Rest assured, though, you don’t even need to show interest in a specific candidate for campaigns to be interested in you. Facebook already gathers information on your political proclivities – either outright stated or inferred by your geographic location, friends, hobbies, other pages you’ve liked, etc.

With this knowledge at their disposal, campaign teams can customize ads that will appeal to you directly. For example, a presidential candidate could purchase an ad that touts her environmental record specifically for adults in early primary states that have previously “liked” pages dealing with the environment. Meanwhile, this same candidate could have separate customized ads appear for someone else who lists his job as “unemployed” and is likely more invested in promises of a recovering economy.

This marketing scheme definitely makes a lot of sense from a business perspective. Rather than spending money broadly (like on TV advertisements) and hoping it reaches some of the right voters, the money can be spent specifically on people who will be more open to hearing the message and consider voting for certain candidates.

Facebook users, though, may be less enthusiastic by this news. When you see how thought-out these campaign tactics are, it really hits home how corporatized social media has become. Most people sign up for the website to stay better in touch with their friends, not have political candidates learn everything about them. It’s hard not to feel at least a little yucky knowing you’re being monitored in such a fashion.

In truth, these tricks have already been around for quite some time. As the Consumerist detailed last year, Facebook is all about tracking the websites you browse and then providing you with relevant ads on Facebook. The fact that the social media giant is now offering these new-aged capabilities to politicians in addition to retail outlets means that advertisers won’t just be asking for your money – they’ll be asking for your vote.

Photo credit: Thinkstock

56 comments

Carole R
Carole Rabout a year ago

Creepy is right ... and scary.

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Glennis W
Glennis Whitneyabout a year ago

Whats new Thank you for caring and sharing

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Glennis W
Glennis Whitneyabout a year ago

Worrying Thank you for caring and sharing

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Glennis W
Glennis Whitneyabout a year ago

Frighting Thank you for caring and sharing

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Glennis W
Glennis Whitneyabout a year ago

Very scary Thank you for caring and sharing

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Naomi D
Naomi Dreyerabout a year ago

Old article

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Paulo R
Paulo Rabout a year ago

ty

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Paulo R
Paulo Rabout a year ago

ty

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Chrissie R
Chrissie Rabout a year ago

Thank you for posting.

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Lisa M
Lisa Mabout a year ago

Noted.

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