In “Messages, Micro-targeting, and New Media Technologies,” published in The Forum in October, Kathleen Hall Jamieson writes that the trend in politics of micro-targeting ads toward individual voters makes it more difficult for reporters and scholars to know “who is saying what to whom, where and with what effect.” In the absence of such information, journalists’ ability to hold sources of information accountable “is even more limited than when pseudonymous groups broad cast their messages in places open to public view.”
Micro-targeting makes it possible to mobilize one candidate’s supporters without alerting prospective opponents, Jamieson writes. Targeted messages can also be used to deceive voters. The rapid upswing in online advertising by independent, third-party organizations will probably be accompanied by “increasing amounts of unaccountable, deceptive” attacks, Jamieson says.
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