Big data, algorithm and our next election

The software made by Cambridge Analytica (CA) is perhaps one of the most controversial and yet most desired in the world now. CA was created in 2013 as a privately-held company that uses data mining and analysis to determine strategic communications to influence the electoral process. It collects personal data from different sources, then analyses them through the algorithms of software and predicts the behaviour of the people in advance. And based on that analysis, it works with governments, militaries, intelligence agencies or politicians to run social campaigns, plot defence strategies or spread propaganda to achieve the desired outcome. 

For example, it is believed that during the Brexit campaign, this software was used to study voters’ psychology and helped pro-Brexit parties to spread anti-European Union sentiment through social media. The same strategy was believed to have been used to spread anti-Hillary sentiment during the US Election. This kind of behavioural analysis gives undue advantage to some groups over their political rivals. It can be mentioned here that CA was an offshoot of its British parent company SCL Group, which has for over 25 years conducted behavioural change programmes in over 60 countries, and gained reputation for its ability to influence in the areas of defence and social change.

Cambridge Analytica collects Big Data (extremely large data sets) given by their clients or it collects them on its own. In this era of Internet of Things, it is almost impossible to hide our personal data, because our data is being recorded constantly through smart devices such as smart phone, TV, computer, e-book reader, CCTV camera, etc. We have voluntarily given personal data to Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, Viber, Whatsapp, etc., which they can sell to governments or private companies. There is also the possibility that our data stored at the government or private institutions (e.g. Passport office, National ID authority, or mobile phone companies)…

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