Undercover political campaigners are arrived

 

But handling them will not be easy.

Yesterday I shared an explanation of how innocent, apparently unrelated “lifestyle” posts and comments on or via social media can be politically poisonous. Today it is worth mentioning a parallel phenomenon, that has the same purpose and is becoming more common, but is much harder to control.

Undercover political campaigners are arrived /img/campaign-for-creative-influencers.jpg

Voters engagement and voting advocacy are absolutely necessary to keep democracy alive. When they happen online, however, they can be controlled like any other political campaigning tool, but with much greater accuracy. Choosing the right messengers, in fact, allows to target specifical constituencies with great accuracy, each with a different message from the person that is more popular among them.

This is true with all voters, of course. However, it is particularly relevant, at least now, among young voters, who as a group spend more time on social media but have less experience.

The problem here is when individuals with large online followings start suggesting how to vote to their fans, young or not, in the wrong way.

Where “wrong”, of course, does not mean “voting for the wrong party”, but presenting as sincere, true personal opinions what is, in fact, political advertising for some party, done for profit but secretly, without declaring it as such.

This is a concrete and urgent problem argues “Beware the Microinfluencer”, because it is surely happening in Mexico, in the United States since the 2016 presidential race and there is no reason for it to stay limited to those countries.

Could this be regulated? Should it

Regulated, yes. Undercover, “clandestine” political campaigning is not good. Problem is, how do you do it without even worst side effects?

Check the comments to that “Microinfluencer” post, and you will see even better as ugly the situation can become. But to name just the two main problems, “regulating the microinfluencers” is:

  • hard to enforce
  • potentially dangerous. Regulate just a bit too much, and what was born as a rule for transparent campaigning becomes a tool for censorship As it stands, this new dark money operation is largely unregulated, and no one in Washington is sounding the alarms.
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