A “slip-up” by social media giant Snapchat allowed some Democratic campaigns and committees to tap into GOP voter data and hone their midterm ads, as reported by Axios.
On Snapchat and most other social media platforms, political advertisers can target their ads to highly specific audiences so that they get the highest return on their advertising investment. To do this, political advertisers rely on information collected by data mining companies.
Two of the major companies that provide political data to social media platforms like Snapchat are TargetSmart and i360, both of which were reportedly accessible during the “slip-up.” TargetSmart is a Democrat-leaning organization while i360 is owned by Charles Koch, a “GOP mega donor” according to The Hill.
The way this data sharing works is that each data mining company makes their data available to certain, pre-approved advertisers made up of politically allied organizations.
“Unfortunately, due to an internal mistake, we didn’t follow this usual process — which resulted in these two companies’ services being used by advertisers outside of the process, impacting a small number of ads,” Snap Inc. said.
According to Axios, the Snapchat political ad archive shows “multiple Democratic and progressive organizations were able to target their ads on the platform using data maintained by the Republican-aligned firm i360.”
These organizations that gained access to i360 data include “the Democratic National Committee, the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, the Planned Parenthood Action Fund and Georgia Democrat Stacey Abrams’ gubernatorial campaign.” There is no specific mention of any GOP or conservative organizations gaining access to TargetSmart data.
The Blaze reports, “The “accident” is significant. Possessing data on Republican voters would allow the Democratic organizations to specifically target users they believe might be open to persuasion.”
There is no indication that SnapChat was previously aware of or facilitated the leak, and the company has stated repeatedly that they are taking steps to make sure it does not happen again.
Eric Wilson, a Republican strategist, told Axios that “the mistake spurs more concern about the concerns about the protection of political data,” but even more than that it brings the debate back to the partisan politics that seem to plague the leadership of most social media giants.
SCOOP: A slip-up by social media giant Snap allowed leading Democratic campaigns and party committees to unwittingly tap into a vast repository of Republican voter data to hone their midterm ads. https://t.co/MYLk60CnhM
— Axios (@axios) September 8, 2022