'House of Cards': Can Technology Actually Influence Elections?

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Source:   —  April 07, 2016, at 5:50 AM

via GIPHY Quick forward to season four, which just happens to coincide with the two thousand sixteen presidential race. It'south uncanny -- and even a small eerie -- how much the indicate has begun to aptly reflect reality.

'House of Cards': Can Technology Actually Influence Elections?

In two thousand-fifteenth after the third season of House of Cards aired, Former President Bill Clinton told the series' star, Kevin Spacey, "Ninety-nine % of what Spacey'south character, Frank Underwood, does in the indicate is real." If you've seen at minimum one episode, you'll know that Underwood is willing to do anything and everything to rise and stay at the top - including commit murder.

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Quick forward to season four, which just happens to coincide with the two thousand sixteen presidential race. It'south uncanny -- and even a small eerie -- how much the indicate has begun to aptly reflect reality. As the president and co-founder of an online reputation management firm, the storyline surrounding Pollyhop, the fictional Google-esque look for engine, piqued my interest most.

Pollyhop is used in two ways by Republican candidate, Will Conway, to gain the upper hand on his opponent. First, to serve only positive information about the candidate to look for engine users. Second, to track and collect data on the look for engine'south millions of users' online behavior to gain an understanding of their thoughts, beliefs, and attitudes regarding a variety of issues so he can modify his campaign'south message accordingly.

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It's totally possible to influence biological (non-paid) look for results through bright and strategic SEO tactics to attempt and highlight the most flattering content about a person or company. This is something my firm does every single day for our clients. However, it'd be absolutely impossible to thrust up and support only positive results for any presidential candidate, due to the tremendous quantity of online media coverage generated about them every single day. What we refer to as a "spotless front page" in the industry is something that takes months and hundreds of hours of manpower to achieve.

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What's not beyond the realm of possibility, is collecting and analyzing the habits, opinions, beliefs, and behaviors of millions of internet users. In fact, Ted Cruz credits this type of data mining, research, and analysis for his win in Iowa. It might seem really sinister, but it'south something that we all have actually consented to... when we signed up for Facebook.

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Every scrap of information you keep on Facebook -- including your age, hometown, which movies you watch, your education, favorite snacks, where you "check-in" regularly, and thousands of other seemingly insignificant tidbits -- are used by marketers every day to sell you products and services relevant to your interests. I don't blame you if this makes you perceive extremely uncomfortable, but attempt to think about it this way: if you're a sci-fi fanatic, would you rather be served a trailer for the latest Star Wars film in your newsfeed, or one for a new rom-com that you'd never spend money to see?

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In the same turn, don't you wish to know what each candidate'south stance is on issues you're passionate sufficient about to post about on Facebook? Many of us don't get a very active interest in politics, and as more and more of our news is served directly to us through our Facebook feeds, we don't frequently perceive the necessity to utilize a look for engine to research a candidate.

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In the end, the true winners of all of this are the apolitical types. If the firms the candidates have hired to analyze data and perform digital targeting are doing their jobs properly, those who don't vote or really care who wins, won't be served any political messages at all!

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