Political microtargeting in advertising: “A danger to democracy”

Political microtargeting in advertising: “A danger to democracy”

Noos News

Political parties are also doing massive micro-targeting on social media in this election campaign. This means sending targeted ads to potential voters based on personal information, such as their search history.

Let’s say you’re searching on Facebook for a recipe or information from your bank, this information can be used to show you a targeted video or campaign ad. If you are interested in Happinez, VPRO or Vegetarian magazine, GL-PvdA would like to contact you.

Meta ad library

If you have an account with Türkiye Is Bank, if you bought a ticket at Royal Air Maroc or if you listen to the music of Turkish artists Baris Manco and Sezen Aksu, there is a high probability that you will see a Think ad on your phone. a screen.

D66 then chooses words such as vegetarianism, master’s degree, and quality of life. The BBB targets some of its ads at people who speak Frisian. Other online parties focus on male and female selection, the public profile of their supporters or advertising along the highway.

Covertly manipulating voters based on banned profiles is extremely dangerous in democracies.

Aled Wolfsen, Dutch Data Protection Authority

However, in the past month, GL-PvdA, D66, FvD, JA21, Denk, SP and PvdD have used highly targeted ads on Facebook and Instagram. They spent hundreds to tens of thousands of euros in advertising money.

The Dutch Data Protection Authority (AP) talks about the effects that could lead to an unfair election result. “Clandestine manipulation of voters on the basis of banned profiles is extremely dangerous in a democracy,” says association president Aled Wolfson. “As a political party you should not want this, it is an illegal violation of fundamental rights,” he added.

For this reason, the Ministry of Interior has been working for some time on a law that would restrict micro-targeting of political parties. The Political Parties Law (Wpp) will include a special chapter containing transparency rules for political advertising and micro-targeting.

The newly established Wpp body will keep a register, which the government intends to do. Political parties are obliged to provide information about the advertisements they publish and the amount they pay for them.

If microtargeting is used, parties must indicate which specific target groups they are targeting, what personal data is used for this purpose and why the party chooses to target.

You cannot convert a VVD voter into a GroenLinks member.

Tom Dauber, microtargeting researcher

The effects are not so strong “that you can turn a VVD voter into a GroenLinkser,” says Tom Dober, a microtargeting researcher at the University of Amsterdam. He has conducted years of research that proves microtargeting works.

It is possible to attract changing voters to the party through a specially designed advertisement. “Then you think more quickly: ‘Hey, this is interesting to me,’ and then you read the message more carefully.”

Many of the choices parties make are already public. This information is available on the Meta website (Facebook, Instagram, WhatsApp, and Threads). Advertising library. In Google (YouTube, Gmail, Blogger), it appears in the center Advertising transparency. “But this is unfathomable to ordinary citizens,” says Dober. “So it’s very opaque.”

Damascus solution

The Dutch Data Protection Authority (AP) doubts whether this is the most convenient way to create a registry in the Netherlands. In the European Union, rules are being put in place to make advertising providers accountable. This is because they are usually responsible for the entire microtargeting process.

The AP also fears a false solution because what political parties actually do online is not monitored.

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