"The Unsuspected Power of Big Data"
Article extract- translated from the original French.
"A political big data company with close ties to the federal liberals and which worked on Emmanuel Macron's campaign in France is setting up its head office in Old Montreal to continue its growth and take advantage of Montreal's digital vitality.
Data Sciences inc. (DS) was born from the victory of the Liberal Party of Canada (PLC) in the last election. Tom Pitfield, a close friend of Justin Trudeau, was leading digital operations during the last campaign."
"Election rules are also stricter in France than in Canada, especially with regard to the use of personal data and advertising. Very few limits are imposed on Canadian political parties, although businesses and governments are themselves subject to some oversight."
The article contains an interview with Sébastien Fassier, vice-president of corporate services at Data Sciences Inc:
"But Mr. Fassier and his colleagues are adamant: they only use information provided on a voluntary basis, such as emails members provide to the party, responses given to volunteers who go door-to-door, or information from censuses.
This information helps populate the various internal databases, which in turn feed into computer programs that will help the party micro-target the best messages to send to a particular small group of voters, donors or volunteers, in order to encourage them to go to the polls, to contribute financially or to volunteer.
In this context, advertisements on a website like Facebook become open-air laboratories, where dozens of messages are tested simultaneously on micro-targeted audiences, and modified in real time to be adapted to their reaction.
These techniques are now the norm in elections in Canada and elsewhere: "In my opinion, there is no turning back," said the vice-president.
“In the same way that large corporations are using data more and more to better target their customers. […] Political parties are the same thing." "
Author: HUGO DE GRANDPRÉ
Publication: La Presse
Publication date: 30/10/2017