Targeted advertising is a great way to get your product to the consumer the most likely to buy. For political parties, targeted advertising is an incredibly intelligent and effective way to find the voters that the party wants.
Social media is becoming increasingly popular as a tool for gathering opinions, and this is no more evident than during a political election. On May 7, 2016, ABC journalist Andy Park reported that an amazing 40 per cent of Canada’s population was reached through Facebook and Instagram by now Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s campaign. The benefits of social media are clear to see. We use social media. A LOT.
I’m sure that everyone has seen the ads on their Facebook feed during the Australian election just gone. The Liberal were use….
Ugh. Okay, If I’m being completely honest, I’m not super into the whole
politics thing. I spent most of the election (and a bunch of time since) watching
Fullmetal Alchemist Brotherhood. I found it much more interesting than anything that came
from the election. So, what I’m going to try and do, is try and relate Fullmetal Alchemist to the way that politics and surveillance in the latest election. If it works, we can all hoist me up as a genius of the highest order, and if it fails, we can forget this post ever happened and go back to our lives. Agreed?
Alright, firstly, let’s look at Feedback. Feedback is a program that logs all interactions that someone on the electoral roll has with an electoral office. Basically, every time you communicate with a politician or their office, that information is logged. Feedback is essentially a Philospher’s Stone and the information gathered is the 1000’s of human souls that go into making a Philosopher’s Stone. Hmm… That was darker than I thought it would be.
Ok, maybe it’s not that close of a relation. Let’s try something else.
As reported by ABC news journalist Conor Duffy on June 10, 2016, Feedback is a program developed by Parakeelia, a software company owned by the Liberal Party. MPs purchased access (with taxpayer money) to the information collected from Feedback. Sounds legit, right? The problem is that Parakeelia also donated more than $1 million to the Liberal Party over recent years. In the world of FMA, there is a law of equivalent exchange; you must exchange something to create something else. The equivalent exchange here: The Liberal Party pay for the software, and Parakeelia donate money back to the Liberal party. Should be all good. Except that Parakeelia is also giving the information, as well as the money. There’s no equivalent exchange. Suddenly the analogy of the Philosopher’s Stone is rather apt, since Philosoper’s Stones can bypass the law.
Look, I’m not saying that the problem here is that our interactions with political parties being monitored is a totally bad thing. In fact, it can do a lot of good in letting our representatives know what issues matter to voters. I do find it troublesome that there seems to be a clear conflict of interest in this case. At least as far as I understand it. Constant government surveillance when there is corruption is never a good thing.
Just ask Colonel Roy Mustang.
- Duffy, C 2016, ‘Feedback: Major parties abusing voter tracking software, former Liberal MP Dennis Jensen says’, ABC 7:30, 10 June, <http://www.abc.net.au/news/2016-06-09/voter-feedback-software-company-donated-$1million-liberal-party/7498024>
- Park, A 2016, ‘Inside a 21st century election campaign: how big data and social media are being used to target your vote’, ABC 7:30, 7 May, <http://www.abc.net.au/news/2016-05-06/social-media-battle-pivotal-in-campaign/7391576>