Cambridge Analytica played an underhand and secretive role in elections around the world. From the USA's presidential elections, the UK's Brexit referendum, to even the Kenyan general elections.

How did they achieve this?

It was relatively easy.

Technology and human psychology

The marriage of technology and human psychology has produced powerful tools that can reach people, understand their behaviour, and influence them towards a certain goal. One such goal can be voting.

Suppose we could group all the people into two main political inclinations; the Oranges party, and Apples party. Each party is passionate about their fruit, and equally hateful of the other fruit.

How would social media be used Β to promote each parties agenda?

First, it would be very hard to convert someone from one party to another through social media. The best way to convert people is to use other people. However, social media can be used to poke holes on what you believe, slowly making you a candidate of conversion into the other party.

Social media can be used to detect which political party you belong to. This would be based on the pages you like, the people you follow, the kind of news you read, and the groups you belong to. If you constantly like news that portray the Oranges party positively and the Apples Party negatively, then most likely you belong to the Oranges Party, and you are likely to vote for the Orange candidate.

Google would be able to do the same using similar factors such as the search queries you make, the e-mails you receive, and the YouTube channels you watch. This is the most useful part of social media.

Using data to influence

Once this is achieved, the next thing is to make use of each category of people.

For your supporters, this is what you can do:

  • Get them to donate to your party.
  • Inspire them to turn out to vote (or not).
  • Continue to radicalize them by showing them negative things about your opponents.
  • Get them to talk about you everyday, and make them your evangelists.

For people in the opposing party, this is what you can do:

  • Show them how absurd their political opinion is.
  • Create an impression that they are losing and your party is winning.
  • Poke holes into their agenda and their candidates.
  • Amplify the scandals made by their candidate.

The above activities present almost everything a party needs to do in order to win elections. Β Only that, you can be in a position to do this just using social media. Once you have achieved this, you will also benefit from the positive messages that your users will keep posting.

The best thing about radicalizing your followers is that they will drive conversation Β about you in their own circles offline, or in WhatsApp groups which you have no access to.

Once your followers are active online, your messages on social media will get more likes and shares, and therefore have a wider reach. You will be able to influence the news cycle, and kill negative stories about you. You will be closer to winning the election.

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