In 2018, a big data scandal called the Cambridge Analytica scandal came to light. It was done by the British political consulting firm Cambridge Analytica, which obtained personal information about millions of Facebook users without their knowledge or permission. Then, the data may have been used to target voters with personalized online ads to try to change the outcome of the 2016 U.S. presidential election. The scandal has caused people all over the world to talk about data privacy, the use of technology in elections, and the morality of targeted advertising.

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People think the Trump campaign ran more than 50,000 targeted ads per day during the 2016 election. These ads were used to reach specific groups of voters and send them messages meant for them. People have said that Cambridge Analytica made and shared these ad assets, but the company has denied these claims. On the other hand, using targeted advertising in the 2016 election was new and had a big impact on who won. In the end, it was found that Russia spread fake news through social media to help Donald Trump win the election. People are worried that this means foreign powers were able to affect the election in ways that weren't possible before social media and the Internet.

Trump’s digital campaign director, Brad Parscale, said in an interview how many ads they had launched daily in the 2016 election campaign:

“We were making hundreds of thousands of them (ads on Facebook) programmatically. … (On an) average day (we would make) 50,000 to 60,000 ads, changing language, words, colors, changing things because certain people like a green button better than a blue button, some people like the word ‘donate’ over ‘contribute.’”

The research published in The Guardian says that more than 218,000 ads were made for the 2020 presidential election. Here are some stats and sample ads from the campaign.

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