360° Analysis

How Big Data is Shaping the US Presidential Election

News on America, news on US election, swing voters in US election, US presidential election, Donald Trump campaign, personal data used in elections, Hillary Clinton campaign, voter database, big data, data protection, data analytics

© peter howell

October 27, 2016 15:47 EDT

Big Brother is not only watching you. He now keeps in touch, too.

There are over 200 million voters in America and now, with the help of new technology and lax privacy laws, both the Republicans and Democrats have a file on, well, every one of them.

Cambridge Analytica, a British firm, was paid $5 million in September alone to analyze data for the Donald Trump campaign and help refine its message to a target audience. Based on some 4,000 to 5,000 “data points” that include your browsing history, supermarket bills or TV habits, analysts can peg you as a certain personality type—say a “high neuroticism conscientious” or a “closed agreeable.”

Data analytics was pioneered in the Barack Obama campaigns, boasting at the time that they knew the names of all 69 million people who voted for him. By changing the perception that people are treated like numbers, the new approach was to create a feeling of a personal touch, mindless of the irony of data-crunching these same people.

Welcome to 1984 reloaded.

The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect Fair Observer’s editorial policy.

Photo Credit: Peter Howell

Support Fair Observer

We rely on your support for our independence, diversity and quality.

For more than 10 years, Fair Observer has been free, fair and independent. No billionaire owns us, no advertisers control us. We are a reader-supported nonprofit. Unlike many other publications, we keep our content free for readers regardless of where they live or whether they can afford to pay. We have no paywalls and no ads.

In the post-truth era of fake news, echo chambers and filter bubbles, we publish a plurality of perspectives from around the world. Anyone can publish with us, but everyone goes through a rigorous editorial process. So, you get fact-checked, well-reasoned content instead of noise.

We publish 2,500+ voices from 90+ countries. We also conduct education and training programs on subjects ranging from digital media and journalism to writing and critical thinking. This doesn’t come cheap. Servers, editors, trainers and web developers cost money.
Please consider supporting us on a regular basis as a recurring donor or a sustaining member.

Will you support FO’s journalism?

We rely on your support for our independence, diversity and quality.

Donation Cycle

Donation Amount

The IRS recognizes Fair Observer as a section 501(c)(3) registered public charity (EIN: 46-4070943), enabling you to claim a tax deduction.

Make Sense of the World

Unique Insights from 2,500+ Contributors in 90+ Countries

Support Fair Observer

Support Fair Observer by becoming a sustaining member

Become a Member