In the American TV serial House of Cards, it was shown voters can be manipulated through internet. It seems during actual US election, President Barrack Obama’s campaign team had used voter profiling to his advantage in 2012. However, no one has charged that voters were influenced to vote in a particular way. According to a report published “Although the Obama campaign in 2012 did target potential voters using information gathered from Facebook profiles, there were key differences. The Obama for America organization accessed voters’ Facebook information when they logged on to the campaign web site via Facebook. Obama supporters were given a permission screen in which they could approve or deny the request, which clearly came from the Obama campaign……… . While the Obama campaign essentially used data gathered from Facebook to create a digital hub of information about potential volunteers and voters to contact and mobilize ”
What is appearing in Indian case that voters were profiled and depending on profile of a voter he / she was subliminally messaged using a flood of adverts. No one knows how successful such approach was. Congress believes BJP won 2014 national election and 2010 Bihar state assembly election using such an approach. BJP targeting congress to have used such a tactics of voter manipulation during recently concluded Gujarat poll. There is no doubt, both political parties were approached and offered service that would help them win election. Who availed the service, and for which election, remains unknown.
An article appeared around the time of Gujarat assembly election of 2017, that claimed that congress party was talking to Cambridge Analytica to create a buzz around Mr. Rahul Gandhi. It is not known if services of Cambridge Analytica was employed or not. It is however clear that congress party’s election campaign was different, party’s election slogans were catchy and Mr. Gandhi had a lot of fury behind his attack on Mr. Modi. Based on election results, it appears that strategy of congress party had worked. It also appears that big data companies will play a role in Indian election. Unless voters remain alert, our choices will not longer be ours. Like a drug addict, we shall be guided to choose whom we are directed to choose.
An article published in Times of India, compares a smart cell phone to a spy satellite that is directed against its own master. Based on all the sites we visit, all the apps we click everytime our friends detail are shared, we are giving access, to big companies that mine data, about details and preferences about our lives. Based on huge data that is collected, BIG DATA, collective profiles can be created and sold to potential customers for big money. More than money, a outcome of a national event of consequence can be changed. If psephologists can predict outcome of a poll by collecting data from barely 20, 000 voters, spread over constituences all over India, imagine what a company with concentrated access to tens of millions of data in one place can do. It is scary.