Data manipulation and the murky world of political advertising

Recent investigative journalism has shone a bright light on the murky world of digital data mining and political advertising. A US-UK company, Cambridge Analytica, with an off-shoot the Canadian firm Aggregate IQ, have been found to have mined huge quantities of personal profiles on Facebook and turned the data into a means for highly personal and psychologically targeted political advertising that some consider could have helped swing elections in marginal constituencies such as the Trump Presidential in 2016. Such is the concern over data manipulation that questions are being asked about the adequacy of the law in the digital age and whether further strengthening of regulators and a catch-up in electoral law are needed on both sides of the Atlantic. Why should political observers be concerned? The recent rapid growth of social media The context is the rapid shift towards … Read more

Is press freedom at risk from commercial interests?

Readers of The Daily Telegraph will have awoken this morning to find that their chief political journalist Peter Oborne has resigned in protest at what he regards as editorial subservience to commercial interest and to the owners, the Barclay Brothers, over under-reporting of the Swiss HSBC scandal. He says that there was a concern that the paper would lose vital advertising revenue and thus journalistic freedom, the truth and press freedom itself were being sacrificed on the altar of commercial interest. “The coverage of HSBC in Britain’s Telegraph is a fraud on its readers. If major newspapers allow corporations to influence their content for fear of losing advertising revenue, democracy itself is in peril.” (post in “Open Democracy“, 18 February 2015) It should be said that The Daily Telegraph denied his allegations. Falling revenues exposes the Press to its commercial backers … Read more

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