By Jackson Richman
Campaigns and social media overall might be significantly impacted by the latest outcry over Facebook amid having millions of its user data stolen by the political firm Cambridge Analytica.
“We are in a whole new era as it relates to big data and different platforms and how they can be used to identify voters, target them,” veteran Republican strategist Matt Mackowiak told The National Discourse on Tuesday, hours before Zuckerberg arrived on Capitol Hill.
Mackowiak continued, “We’re at the very beginning, I think, of Congress looking at this and considering regulation of these digital platforms. We don’t know at this point if the law was violated as it relates to Cambridge Analytica and as it relates to Facebook.”
As of this writing, Facebook founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg is undergoing intense questioning by a joint Senate committee about Facebook’s privacy and other issues.
“I think, so far, Facebook has not handled this very well. They were really silent for several days,” Mackowiak said. “All they’ve done is offer wishy-washy apologies and [do] modest changes as to how their platform works. So, I think they have a bit of a branding and PR problem.”
In addition to Cambridge Analytica, Mackowiak mentioned other issues for which Facebook has come under fire, like being a “behemoth” company and silencing conservative voices.
“The bigger these platforms get, the more significant the issues are that they’re having to deal with,” he said.
Regarding the impact political campaigns might face amid the social media controversy, Mackowiak does not see any change in voters being targeted through Facebook and other similar platforms. “The data that Cambridge got from Facebook, I think, will not be available,” he said. “But there will be other data that will be available.”
“Obviously, in the digital space, we’re in a different phase now where we’re targeting voters digitally. And that offers lots of new ways to ascertain who they are and what they like and who their friends are,” Mackowiak added. “And there are questions about whether these platforms are making too much information available, whether people know their information is being made available, and, of course, what the security implications are.”
Back on Capitol Hill, Zuckerberg explained Facebook’s revenue generator, mentioned his company is working with special counsel Robert Mueller, and answered questions over other issues surrounding the social network.