Would you trust a politician who bought your like on Facebook or targeted you on Facebook to ensure their campaign information showed up in your feed? Well guess what! The Conservative Party of Canada has allegedly been doing just that.
According to a CBC News report, some third-party websites or videos that you are clicking have malware embedded in them, which in turn will suddenly make you like companies, organizations and hell, even political parties you never even thought about.
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Yes, it’s quite a sleazy thing to do, but ethics aside, everyone does this, from politicians to fast-food joints. While it’s very sneaky (if you aren’t looking for it, you wouldn’t even realize it had happened), it’s not uncommon for the Conservative Party of Canada to spend large sums of money to explore alternative means of advertising to potential voters, especially young ones. Lest we forget the robo-call!
The Liberals, Greens and NDP have all gone on the record as saying that, while they buy advertising on Facebook, they have not bought phony likes. On the other hand, the Conservative Party’s director of communications, Cory Hann, has remained silent on the issue, putting out the statement that the phony likes were “an internal party matter.”
The rise of fake followers on social media platforms is becoming a larger and larger issue, and the biggest questions to ask are, where do all these phony likes come from, and should I believe the political organization that is purchasing them? In the media and in the court of public opinion, we typically quantify success of public figures and/or organizations by the number of followers or likes they have. We believe that by engaging in what we believe to be genuine communication with genuine followers, we can partake in conversation with like-minded individuals.
In this case, many Facebook users are being duped into liking a political organization they don’t particularly support. The Conservative Party of Canada’s digital social media team made the executive decision to take a chance on peer-to-peer communication. Explained by media consultant Susie Erjavec Parker of Sparker Strategy Group, “If I know you well, and I see that Reg likes a certain brand, and I’m looking to shop, maybe I say, ‘Well, if Reg is liking that, maybe I need to take a second look.'”
Social media is redefining brand influence and the way we interact with and share our political views. Just as expensive as any advertisement on TV, the digital social media team (for any political party, not just the Conservatives) can buy likes, followers and conversation on any number of social media sites in an attempt to increase others’ perception of your influence. The bigger question to ask is this: If your potential political party is buying its social credibility, then what does this say about the rest of its political practices?