Facebook Approached Australian Political Parties To Microtarget Voters

In the wake of a massive data harvesting scandal, it has emerged that Facebook approached at least two major Australian political parties during the final weeks of their 2016 election in order to help them "microtarget" voters using a powerful data matching tool, reports the Sydney Morning Herald.

Facebook offered "advanced matching" as part of their so-called Custom Audience feature to both the conservative (if not confusingly named) Liberal Party, as well as the "democratic socialist" Labor Party. The tool promised to allow the parties to compare data they had collected about voters - such as names, birth dates, phone numbers, postcodes and email addresses - and match that information to Facebook profiles.

The combination of data sets would then allow political parties to target Australian swing voters with custom tailored ads over Facebook, which advertised a 17% increase in matching rates using a beta version of the service provided to the Liberal Party. 

Fairfax Media reports that while the conservative Liberal Party turned Facebook down over concerns that sending voter data overseas to Facebook servers would violate the Privacy Act and the Electoral Act, the Labor Party took Facebook up on their offer. 

Asked specifically whether Labor used the tool, a Labor spokesman said in a statement: "A range of different campaign techniques and tools are used for campaigning, from doorknocking to phone banking to online. Labor works with different groups to get our message out, including social media platforms like Facebook."

"All of our work is in complete compliance with relevant laws, including the Commonwealth Electoral Act, which makes it a criminal offence to misuse information on the electoral roll." -Sydney Morning Herald

That said, the Herald reports that the Labor Party (ALP) digital team would have "hashed" - or anonymized, any electoral roll data "on a local browser," sources tell the Herald. This would have prevented personally identifiable information to be uploaded to foreign servers. 

Both the Labor Party and Facebook sought to downplay the "advanced matching" feature. 

The Custom Audiences tool is widely used by brands and advertisers to target potential customers.

"Lots of people use the custom audience tool. Civil society groups use it too with their massive databases. I don't think it's anywhere near as sinister as people think," a Labor source said.

Facebook said in a statement: "All parties are offered the same training, materials and products - whether existing or new — at the same time. It is a decision for each campaign as to whether and how they choose to use them."

The company has this week been unable to say whether data of Australian users is hosted locally or offshore. -smh

Facebook has been contacted by Australia's privacy commissioner to with questions over Australians who may have been caught up in a massive data harvesting scandal which has unfolded over the last week - raising the possibility of sanctions against the social media giant. 

News of Facebook's attempt to help Australian political parties influence their 2016 election comes days after Mark Zuckerberg told CNN that the possibility of the social media giant influencing the 2016 U.S. election was "a pretty crazy idea." 

That's kind of interesting considering that Facebook was also helping the Obama Campaign target voters using harvested data, similar to what Cambridge Analytica was doing for several GOP candidates in the 2016 election. Obama's former campaign director admitted over Twitter that Facebook not only knew of the campaign's data harvesting to "suck out the whole social graph," but that they "didn't stop us once they realized that was what we were doing." 

And WikiLeaked emails released during the 2016 election revealed that Facebook COO Cheryl Sandberg really wanted "Hillary to win badly," after Hillary came over to Sandberg's house and was "magical with her kids."

Then there's Sandberg telling John Podesta "Look forward to working with you to elect the first woman President of the United States." 

Notably, there don't seem to be any emails from Facebook executives to Trump's campaign manager with similar sentiments. 

Comments

BuddyEffed Zero Point Mon, 03/26/2018 - 01:17 Permalink

It's one innocuous thing to take your user data and then let advertisers target you based on known choices of words, and clicks of interest, but it's a whole nuther ball game to subject you to manipulative posts and messages of questionable veracity and edgy content designed to sway your emotions about elections or events or designed to slander some and heap false praise on others. 

In reply to by Zero Point

NidStyles BuddyEffed Mon, 03/26/2018 - 01:42 Permalink

It’s probably worse than that. Using memetics they can make people think things that aren’t even true. Even make them lash out and think they are actively working to support someone while actually destroying them. 

 

Jews are ruthless in their obsession.

 

What other group would lie about their own genocide while committing one themselves?

In reply to by BuddyEffed

BGO Mon, 03/26/2018 - 00:27 Permalink

Hopefully the alternative media continues to shellac LizardBook. And hopefully the rest of the Lizard Media suffers the same demise. 

Would be interesting to know who specifically is behind the rapid suffocation of LizardBook. Not that it matters. As long as their fellow Lizard Brethren suffers the same fate, that's all that really matters. 

SantaClaws Mon, 03/26/2018 - 00:49 Permalink

Hillary Clinton was such an awful candidate I find it hard to believe Facebook data made the difference.  May have helped Obama, but I don't recall the details of his races against McCain and Romney well enough.  McCain and Romney may have been as poor as candidates as was Hillary.

Cash Is King SantaClaws Mon, 03/26/2018 - 01:05 Permalink

With all the smoke n mirrors and general bs floating around this POS company I find it hard to believe nobody gets the real issue. FB, with all its creepy (most likely criminal) data collection & spying knowing all about its users & non users alike, still didn’t know (at least publicly) HRC was a rotten person, a worse candidate and had almost zero chance of winning yet all these fools want us to believe FB let 3rd party apps to manipulate & convert her voters and that, along with Russian money & influence that elected Trump? Please!

In reply to by SantaClaws

ThorAss Mon, 03/26/2018 - 02:37 Permalink

The Labor Party is the Socialist Party. The Liberals are the liberals. The Nationals are the conservatives and they are usually in alliance with the Libs. However, the Nationals only have a powerbase in rural areas. Since Australia is over 90% urbanised the supply of "deplorables" is very low. There is no real Conservative Party here because, ya know, Free Shit For Everyone buys the vote every time. 

keep the basta… ThorAss Mon, 03/26/2018 - 04:53 Permalink

Wrong. All parties are agreed on not passing tha anti money laundering bill by property... the first ineffrctual part was passed round 2004 and the rest still sits. Meanwhile its rort on rort on rort, negatively gearing houses against income so polllies have 30  while the rest can't afford to buy. Homes you live in can't be negatively geared.

the preferential compulsory voting system stops any alternative groups getting into parliament. It's a stitch up.

Do recall Aus was an English govt prison prison camp up to 1900, English were still bringing in convict slaves when my grandmother was a girl.

do recall that girls, 15 years old and women were sold for rum on landing in Aus and then onsold in the early days.  There are plenty of English blood lines, especially,in melbourne  and Adelaide where snobbery still holds reign.

In reply to by ThorAss

ItsAllBollocks Mon, 03/26/2018 - 02:38 Permalink

Maybe Labor did do it but it didn't help, they lost and this article sounds more like an ad anyway. Do they genuinely expect anyone to believe the conservative Liberal party gives a rats ass about the violation of the Privacy and Electoral Acts? I'll have $20 worth of whatever they're on because it must be really good shit.

Naruhodo Mon, 03/26/2018 - 02:58 Permalink

Your privacy has already been breached/compromised the minute you chose to register your FB/Google account that requires phone number verification/permission for direct access to your billing information with your local ISP/phone company.It is mandatory to register your phone number with your national registration card/passport in most countries before you can use it.

After this, you're just like walking naked on the internet because these accounts with ad-trackers actually stores and remembers all your devices fingerprints which you leave behind on every website your visit on their visitors logs.

No ad-blocking browsers even TOR will save you as soon as you log yourself into one of these FB/Google accounts despite how safe they claim to be. Device fingerprints relate you to your web access hardware, you can't wash your traces away unless they are made disposable/destructable every time you use it.Making things worst is when you log into a verified FB/Google account your identity confirmation is sealed with your access device. There is no more anonymity with your device after this.

otschelnik Mon, 03/26/2018 - 03:01 Permalink

If they’re like our Democrats, surely the Aussie Labor Party will do some serious soul searching as to the ethical aspect of psycho-profiling, targeted manipulation of fears and weaknesses of their constituency, and empanel a commission to examine the borders political marketing…..   instead of just blaming Facebook.

Naruhodo Mon, 03/26/2018 - 03:11 Permalink

The thing is this once you register your fingerprint with your government's national registration dept, you've already given away your freedom. Similarly, when you expose your device's fingerprints by login in a verified social media account. Any incident or trails left behind at the site of incident will be traced back to your deviceand ultimately you! No more anonimity despite how many times you try washing your hands.

kwaremont Mon, 03/26/2018 - 03:42 Permalink

well, the usual NewEvil suspects (GOOLAGs and AssBooks of this world)... nowadays collaborating fully with OldEvil (everyday politico oligarchical predators)

 

what could go wrong?

 

monopolizing the internet like Standard its Oil

Flibbertigibbet Mon, 03/26/2018 - 06:22 Permalink

"...the conservative (if not confusingly named) Liberal Party"

They're (ostensibly) Economic Liberalists a.k.a Laissez-faire capitalists.

If anyone's Laboring under the misapprehension that our One Nation of Australia has Liberal amounts of political autonomy, they're just plain Green.

Same sideshow, same controllers, just less...hysterical.

Last of the Mi… Mon, 03/26/2018 - 06:45 Permalink

"We never sell data to anyone" Yeah, right Zuck. Just like "I never had sex with that woman" and "Wiped it like with a cloth?" It is plain as the nose on your face what fb is. A couple of up votes for PC SJW bullshit nonsense and you're a member for life.

If you don't get how truly "creepy" fb is then you're just not awake, cognizant and breathing. Explain to me exactly how it is necessary for each and every social interaction, in this day and age, to go through Zuck's data collection browser for permanent collating and filing for future reference, to say nothing of profiteering from the data that was harvested from the unknowing. Fb is Orwell's all knowing government listening to every utterance.