Talking Politics 203: The Tech Election

The Editors

In the latest episode of the Talking Politics podcast, David Runciman, Charles Arthur and Jennifer Cobbe talk about the impact of different online platforms on the general election campaign, from Twitter and Facebook to WhatsApp and TikTok. Is micro-targeting getting more sophisticated? Is viral messaging getting more important? Or are traditional electioneering techniques still driving voter engagement? They also ask if there's any scope left for a 'December surprise'.

‘I think the different platforms have all decided now that they need rules for this, they just don’t want rules from the outside. They want to be able to set their own rules, which is not really a desirable position from a democratic point of view. Facebook's message is “Well, no, we learned from 2016, you can trust us, we will do this right,” as if Facebook has any kind of credibility at all. And Google are saying “We want to try to find things that are demonstrably false claims and we won’t allow those,” as if that’s something that Google can actually do. And Twitter are saying “we want to get rid of political advertising completely,” as if they can draw a clear distinction between political advertising and non-political advertising.’ – Jennifer Cobbe

Related pieces in the LRB:

John Lanchester: You Are the Product (August 2017)

Will Davies: Cambridge Analytica (April 2018)

Richard Seymour: Trolls (December 2016)

Rebecca Solnit: Google Invades (February 2013)