Major Indian parties, always afraid of losing their appeal to voters, haven’t been averse to hiring such mechanisms like big data analysis which may not be illegal, but certainly stretch the moral fabric. The Steve Bannon-inspired firm at the heart of the data theft had been quite the dirty tricks department of the Donald Trump poll campaign.The political rhetoric over the da ta scandal enveloping the cloak-and-dagger firm of Cambridge Analytica is essentially diversionary.From its inception in college dorms, Mark Zuckerberg’s Facebook was intended to connect people.
Populist propaganda and inter-party wrangling are not going to help us in facing up to newer and more complex mechanisms challenging notions of democracy. Given the laxity of our legal frameworks, such voter or consumer influencing mechanisms are certain to crop up in some form. The exposures about the firm does, however, point to an evolving mechanism of trying to alter behaviour of a large set of targeted people by the use of behavioural science into acting in certain ways, such as voting for a particular party.
It will be up to political parties to agree on how to keep such strategies out, although some of them could be rendered obsolescent if they don’t modernise their outreach. Even as a couple of billion users may be assessing Zuckerberg’s mea culpa when intending to take a call on their accounts, where Facebook went wrong is in giving access to user data, even if it was to a researcher. The issue assumes salience when major elections are coming up. As the data was manipulated in mind control games and probably Nonwoven Machine-made Bags suppliers helped swing a major election, it is the citizens of democracies who are under threat of being devalued by the use of such methodology.
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