Social Media Giant 'Accidentally' Hands GOP Voter Information to Democrats

AP Photo/Richard Drew

Get ready to be shocked. Another “mistake” by a social media company just so happened to benefit Democrats heading into an election. Isn’t it so weird how that keeps happening?

In this case, Snap (formerly known as Snapchat), says it “inadvertently” exposed collected data on Republican voters to Democrat firms. Those firms then used that data to target political ads before the mid-terms.

Axios has the story, though they frame it exactly as you’d expect.

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, Axios has learned.

Why it matters: There’s no indication Snap was aware of or facilitated that data sharing, and the company said it’s taking steps to rectify the oversight. But the blunder underscores the sensitivities surrounding reams of voter data that have become a highly valuable political commodity.

According to the report, Snap allowed Democrat organizations to access the voter data of Republican-allied firm i360, which was founded by Charles Koch. That means those Democrat organizations could then hone their campaign ads to target specific voters who are deemed to be persuadable.

Snap provided this statement in response.

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,” a Snap spokesperson told Axios.

What exactly was the internal mistake? And how does such a mistake get made without it being purposeful? Since this only affected a couple of firms, that would seem to indicate that something manually must have been done. If this were just a backend problem, you would think it would have hit all accounts or at least a sizable number in a specific category.

If Snap wants to blame this on an oversight, then it needs to provide far more detail about how this happened than that statement gives. What “process” wasn’t followed? Why wasn’t it followed? Who didn’t do the following?

There’s a fine line here between defending the freedom of speech on the internet and allowing these social media companies to run amok with people’s data. Targeted leaking of information for political purposes has become rampant within the government. One look at how the DOJ is handling the Trump Mar-a-Lago case will show that. The next frontier is going to be social media companies exposing data for partisan reasons. If this was truly a “mistake,” then it needs to be fully explained and rectified. Running to Axios to spin a sympathetic story isn’t doing that.

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