TDG Banner

Trump's Brilliant Facebook Campaign

In 2018, a Canadian-based documentary told us about the Trump Facebook campaign in 2016. There is one highlight that really struck me.

To set the stage, I need to talk a little bit about soft support voters. Soft support voters do have a preference for a certain political candidate or political party. But sometimes they need the party’s ground team to convince them to vote. Sometimes negative advertising from the other party can convince them to stay home on election day. Not all voters think like political junkies.

The Trump campaign hired Cambridge Analytica (CA) to put Trump ads on Facebook (FB). For some strange reason, Mr. Trump and other top Republicans did not interfere in this Facebook campaign; they just gave CA lots of money. So, this company had a green light to conduct the campaign as it wanted.

A few years previously, FB developed algorithms to determine the psychological makeup of any active FB user simply by the clicks and views that user made. Lapsed Catholic? FB can figure this out. Lower-middle class retail worker with a pet cat? FB can figure this out. Unemployed college graduate living at their parents’ house? FB can figure this out. The whole point of this profiling was to target specific ads to specific demographics. Ads tailored to a specific audience increase the chance of making an internet sale. Advertisers like this new way of targeting ads to particular demographics.

CA took this profiling into politics. Here is a great example of their work.

Facebook was able to identify single mothers with young children. Most of us would say that demographic strongly prefers the Democratic Party, which is more likely to provide social programs for these families. Well, guess what? Cambridge Analytica, working for the Republicans, went after this demographic in a big way. Here is their ad:

Sunshine. Trees. Nice music. Children laughing in the background. Then camera panning to children on a playground, playing tag. Swinging. Climbing. Running. Smiling mothers. More sunshine and nice spring day. More laughing. Then at the very end, the “TRUMP pence” logo blinks on for about five seconds. END

That ad was put on FB feeds for single mothers all across the USA prior to Election Day 2016.

Imagine yourself as a single mother with all the pressures of raising children by yourself. Your only real indulgence is Facebook when the kids are sleeping. You like checking up on your friends. You see that ad once. You see it again. You see it several more times.

Now it is Election Day. Time to go and vote Democrat.

Except you had a hard day at work. Except your kids are cranky and fighting. Except your babysitter has bailed and the replacement you called is not happy with such short notice. Except you saw this nice Facebook ad last night. Except maybe Mr. Trump and Mr. Pence are not that bad because they must like kids to make an ad like that. Except maybe you’ll just forgo the lineups at the voting station and stay home tonight.

A Democrat vote that did not find its way to the ballot box is almost as good as a vote for the Republicans.

A voter’s psyche has been temporarily tampered with. For what good reason?

Let’s put this single mother in a political system that employs Tiered Democratic Governance (TDG).

She would get notices from the executive committee of her local TDG. These notices would encourage her to vote. They would also ask her to vote for Good Character and Capacity for Governance. But she must define what these terms mean to her. She starts thinking about which neighbor she should vote for.

The TDG voting station is only a half block away. She brings her kids. She votes for Sally Smith who lives three doors down in the apartment building they both live in. Sally has helped this single mother with some child care and hot meals. The single mother is home 20 minutes later. A nice walk with the kids. She has moved the TDG forward with her vote. She has given her vote to someone of quality in her neighborhood.

Social media had no influence on her vote. And she didn’t vote for a party hack who she would never know. Think about that!

Published on Medium 2016

Negative Political Advertising

Combatting Political Mental Illness