I have a serious love-hate relationship with the practice of “microtargeting.” On one hand, I totaly get why it is an attractive and completely useful thing to do. On the other, slightly more paranoid and prone to conspiracy theories, hand I feel like it is kind of creepy.
Now, I know that my ability to target women in Washington, D.C. is awesome for H*yas for Choice (HFC) and really doesn’t even come close to what some microtargeting does. If we’re going to do a visibility day in front of the Supreme Court, for example, it doesn’t make sense to send that info to alumni members who now live on the other side of the country. Awesome! Personalized messages that deliver relevant content is what all the books say works for social/political movements.
Yet, I have this persistent feeling that this is weird and ultimately going to bite us all the as*. Can Facebook really trust me with this ability? Should the average student organizer have access to the tools that Karl Rove used so well in 2004?
My knee jerk reaction is… this is so creepy. While I agree intellectually with making the tools Karl Rove uses available to everyone from presidential campaigns to student-run campus campaigns in practice I don’t know if the ability to always microtarget each other is so good for dialogue and participation. Admittedly, I can’t articulate a reason that sending my update to HFC members not in Washington, DC would be a good thing.
This sensation must be what they mean when authors talk about the tech culture in the U.S. I feel like an old lady saying, “well I just dont trust it.” Also, I fully imagine that “kids these days” think it is weird to see an ad clearly not meant for them (like a heartburn medication ad on Facebook). I kind of like it though, it makes me feel like at least part of my life is below the radar somewhere.
Also, discovering this aspect of sending out notices made me doubaly pissed at the Obama campaign. Why was I getting so many notices from them when they clearly could’ve targeted them and saved me the annoyance? And this, my friends, must be why microtargeting is the best thing to happen to politics and advertising since… what, television maybe? Even though I think this is super creepy, I like when it works in my favor– filtering out redundant messages from Obama or keeping my page free of “Vote Yes for Life” ads.
As the adminstrator for the HFC group I love targeting my message, as a person concerned with the massive amounts of data being collected online it weirds me out in a serious way. This must be how these little minor invasions of privacy happen… they just make life a teensy bit better and so we kind of swallow our queesy feelings about it.