Behind-the-scenes on the development of Vote.USA.gov; social media and the campaign; and more.
This is civic tech: Building on David Moore’s essay yesterday about the need for open data standards for civic information, Mark Headd of Accela chimes in, asking “What organization(s) have the clout, impartiality and durability to bring together disparate interests and help craft a new data standard?”
Speaking of open data, the FCC just voted to require all but the smallest cable, satellite, and radio stations to upload their political files, which reveal who is buying what ads and when they run, online. As Libby Watson points out on the Sunlight Foundation blog, these files are technically open public records but only available for viewing on paper at each station’s office. This FCC decision will make Sunlight’s Political Ad Sleuth tool far more useful.
Presidential Innovation Fellows Kate McCall-Kiley, Luke Keller, and Adam Bonnifield go behind-the-scenes on the development of Vote.USA.gov, a new platform they built in just two weeks that helps citizens find out how to register to vote in their state. They also report that Facebook has partnered with the site, using its tools to alert users to state registration deadlines, writing “With the help of this Facebook pilot, more people registered to vote in one day than did so in the entire previous two weeks.”
Tech and the presidentials: Snapchat has started a political campaign show anchored by former CNN reporter Peter Hamby, Steven Perlberg reports for the Wall Street Journal.
Presidential campaigns are uploading their email lists and voter files to Facebook’s advertising network, which then matches “real-life voters with their Facebook accounts,” Harry Davies and Danny Yadron report for the Guardian. This is allowing campaigns like Ted Cruz’s to “target voters on a range of broad issues like immigration controls to niche specific causes such as abolishing state laws against the sale of fireworks.” The company is also finding users “who like lots of political content and share it with their friends, mark[ing] them as ‘political influencers’ and allow[ing] campaigns to target them specifically.”
As the Guardian reports, Sheryl Sandberg, Facebook’s COO, told investors on an earnings call Wednesday that “the 2016 election is a big deal in terms of ad spend,” adding “Using Facebook and Instagram ads you can target by congressional district, you can target by interest, you can target by demographics or any combination of those. And we’re seeing politicians at all levels really take advantage of that targeting.” Luckily, Facebook is helping more voters register too (see above item).
Whither privacy? With signs that the Federal Trade Commission is going to start policing privacy violations more stringently, business lobbyists are mounting an active campaign to delegitimize its efforts, Chris Jay Hoofnagle, UC Berkeley privacy expert, writes for The Hill.