Chapter 6: Branding candidates online
On top of the techniques used on television to broadcast political messages to vast swaths of the electorate, computer technologies allow politicians to narrowcast microtargeted messages to voters. Not only can political ads be viewed on desktop computers, but by 2016, 80 percent of the US population had a smartphone that could play political messages on the go. Politicians like Bill Clinton were initially slow to cleverly exploit these new technologies. But by 2008, these channels were being used in new ways to encourage voters to register to vote, to vote early, to vote by mail and to vote in person. These technologies were also harnessed to spread a pro-Obama music video for a song called “Yes We Can,” which ended with an exhortation to vote. They can additionally be used for pernicious purposes, like suppressing the vote, which appeared to be a tactic used by the Trump campaign in 2016.
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