Tag Archives: political advertising

Public mind manipulation

There’s a report out today  calling for the regulation of targeted political advertising.  I heard this  in a BBC review of the papers, but it isn’t mentioned in theGuardian and  can’t find it on the Internet, so I don’t have the details.

However, this is a serious matter and regulation is urgently needed.  Sadly, it is probably too late to bring in relevant new laws before a snap general election or even another referendum, so it is vitally important for the public to be fully aware of what is going on.

A recent article by Peter Pomerantsev  in the Guardian tells of a world of “dark ads, psy-ops, hacks, bots, soft facts, deep fakes, fake news . . . trolls.”  I don’t pretend to understand what most of these are but they are sent digitally not to the population as a whole, but to carefully targeted audiences.  The target does not necessarily know from whom the message comes, nor who else is receiving it, or an entirely different message.

The result is that the recipients are deceived into believing that there is a consensus of opinion where none actually exists.  Maybe this helps explain the narrow lead for Leave in the 2016 Referendum

Apparently, the person in charge of targeted digital messaging for the Vote Leave campaign i was a Thomas Borwick. According to Pomerantsev:

 the most successful message in getting people out to vote had been about animal rights.  Vote leave argued that the EU was cruel to animals because, for example, it supported farmers in Spain who raise bulls for bullfighting.  And within the “animal rights” segment Borwick could focus (sic) even tighter, sending graphic ads featuring mutilated animals to one type of  voter and more gentle ads with pictures of cuddly sheep, to others.

It’s  a world away from “Question Time” the “Today Programme,” “Newsnight,” election addresses and, indeed,  Focus.  the Tories are said to have earmarked several millions to digital advertising since Mr Johnson became Prime Minister.

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged | 30 Comments

Tim Berners-Lee: It is up to all of us to build the web we want – for everyone

 

I’ve been meaning to write about this subject for the last week, but somehow Conference got in the way.

Sir Tim Berners-Lee wrote an important article in The Guardian about a week ago, which should be taken seriously by anyone involved in politics who a) cares about democracy and b) understands the significance of online campaigning – which I guess means most LDV readers.

As the inventor of the worldwide web, Berners-Lee has ardently campaigned for web universality and net neutrality, and he has put structures in place to try to ensure its independence from political and commercial interference. I wrote something about his concerns in 2010 when he marked the 20th anniversary of his invention with a warning article in Scientific American.

He repeats some of those worries in his latest article, demonstrating that the threats have not gone away, and indeed have been joined by new ones.

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged and | 4 Comments

We should drop the ban on political advertising on TV

european court of human rightsThis week saw the failure of the attempt by Animal Defenders International to overturn the the UK’s ban political advertising on radio and television. The Guardian reports:

By a narrow majority decision, judges at the European court of human rights in Strasbourg have ruled that preventing the broadcast of a commercial – showing a girl in chains in a chimpanzee’s cage – did not violate freedom of expression. …

The animal rights group lost its appeals in both the high court and the House of Lords before

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged and | 9 Comments
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