On data mining by political parties

Toby Ralph writes: Re. ” If the US data gathering stories worried you, we have some bad news …” (Monday)

Good synopsis, Charlie, thank you. The data profiling that is possible is astonishing, but what is truly extraordinary is how clumsily it has been used thus far. The parties have simply failed to use data they have to deliver meaningful personalised messages. Look at the track record of Cambridge and find proof. It will happen in time though. Awful.

Andrew Reilly writes:  Re. “If the US data gathering stories worried you, we have some bad news …” (Monday)

To put things in perspective: none of the political parties have anything like the amount of data about you that Facebook and Google have themselves, and you can tell how well it serves them by how many rubbish advertisements you still get shown. If the idea worked, the advertisements would be more interesting than the un-targeted “content”.

Data mining is sifting for signal in noise, but sometimes there just isn’t any signal: it’s noise all the way down. Conclusions and extrapolations in that context might as well be drawn from chicken entrails. Of course that’s no reason not to make money by selling “platforms” to people desperately looking for an edge of some sort.

One advantage for most of us, who live in the “safe” seats: all of the political parties spend their advertising budgets elsewhere, so that we’re not bothered.

Peter Fray

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