I know, you are probably all tired of the campaign season. And I get it. If I see one more of those smear ads, I’m sending an angry tweet. But there have been some interesting digital developments in the past week or so, and I’m not just talking about Big Bird. Since I’m guessing you’ve probably heard about at least one of these things, I’m asking you, the reader, to weigh-in. Answer one question, or all of them, read on and share your thoughts.
Big Data is Presidential
The New York Times released an article this week sharing how much Romney and Obama campaigns are relying on big data to target voters. Earlier in the year, the Obama campaign used targeted TV ads, make buys in specific markets to reach subgroups of voters. Now both campaigns are taking it to a whole new level, using information from social networks, website cookies to track habits, and demographic data purchased from private companies to hopefully target the right voters to get out on Election Day.
Based on this data, you might get a call from someone who seems to know a lot about you, including what restaurant and beer you prefer, or how many times you have voted in the past.
While there is certainly potential in mining data, and using it to guide strategies, campaign officials know there could be fallout from the practice. Personal privacy, while something many see as important, is hard to come by online, and I think many social network users are unaware of how much they actually share (and with whom).
This focus comes during what will most certainly be a close election, as close races are often decided by who doesn’t vote, rather than who does.
Question 1: Should campaigns be able to have access to all this data? Is it even helpful?
Romney + Google = “completely wrong”
If you searched Google with the term “completely wrong” in the past week or so, the image results have probably been filled with shots of Mitt Romney. The photos started coming up in relation to Romney’s now infamous “47 percent” comment. It’s an unintentional result of Google algorithms picking up coverage of Romney saying he was “completely wrong” when he stated last spring that almost half of all Americans were dependent on the government.
While this occurred because of Google’s algorithms, it brings to mind the “Google bombing” of Rick Santorum.
Question 2: What’s your favorite “Google bombing” incident?
Pizza Hut moves out of town hall, onto Facebook
Last week Pizza Hut came under fire after they announced 30 years of free pizza to a town hall debate attendee that asked Romney and Obama is they prefer pepperoni or sausage. Now Pizza Hut plans to run a contest via Facebook instead, allowing customers to sign up by submitting an email and zip code. While the company cites overwhelming public interest as the reason for the change, it seems more motivated by the negative press.
Now, anyone can enter to win a lifetime supply of free pizza, while the previous prize for town hall attendees was pizza for 30 years or a check for $15,600. Pizza Hut will still honor the prize if someone at the debate asks the question.
Question 3: Would you ask the candidates their pizza preference?
Oversharing on Social Networks
Back in March, Pew shared survey results that stated 18 percent of Americans have blocked someone on a social network because of political posts. With the campaign hitting the home stretch and the intensity ramping up from all sides, I have to think that number would be higher now.
Question 4: Have you been blocking or hiding friends from your news feed? How many posts is too many?