The Media Hype on Politics
This paper will explore big data as a medium to influence political campaigns and its effectiveness. The evolution of political communication requires specific strategies to reach its constituents on various platforms outside of traditional methods. Politicians are harnessing big data analytics to build an environment that directly connects the elected and the electorate. The US presidential campaign in 2008 has shown that big data has become increasingly important for political communication and persuasion (Wattal et al. 2010). To understand this new phenomenon, this paper will examine the presidential campaign of Barrack Obama and the use of big data methodologies to communicate with electorates.
“Were it not for the Internet, Barack Obama would not be president. Were it not for the Internet, Barack Obama would not have been the nominee,” said Arianna Huffington, editor in chief of The Huffington Post. The internet is not a new phenomenon but how is that Obama is considered the first President to utilize the Internet in such an effective way that gained support nationwide so effortlessly? Obama’s first presidential campaign ushered in a new era of data collection and targeting (Murphy 2012). It is important to understand how data is collected in order to understand how it can be used for target marketing. Data has three characteristics: First, it is the material collected from an object or phenomenon. Second, data exists prior to analysis. And third, data is the most divisible or atomized useful unit of analysis (Schroeder 2018).
The advancement of powerful technologies such as computers, have made it possible to gather large amounts of data. The key to the growth of scientific knowledge is quantification or mathematization and with the tools like computers that can process the algorithms makes data collecting more powerful. This technology has left the laboratory and has been installed into consumer devices such as smartphones and have become part of daily lives. It is seen in the form of social media, search engines and other digital media (Schroeder 2018).
There is a difference between advancing knowledge and changing or controlling the physical or social environment because the initial step is to gain access to the digital media for the data from social network sites or search engines. Science requires that data can replicated, however, the data found through social network sites or search engines are not openly available for replication. Therefore, this data can be used in a more powerful way to control specific parts of the physical or social world. Academic social scientists’ goals are not to intervene with human behavior but instead to produce generalizable knowledge about human behavior. There are private sectors that do use this data to intervene in human behavior such as marketers, advertisers, and now political candidates (Schroeder 2018).