back to article How the Facebook money funnel is shaping British elections

Britons vote for a new government on June 8 and, until recently, election campaigns have been tightly controlled affairs with limits on how much parties can spend per constituency, the requirement to submit detailed accounts and no political advertising on television. But the rules don't cover online advertising – allowing …

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Trollface

I did think it was unusual that I was shown an advert by the Conservatives on YouTube, as I'm not (and have no intention to be) a Tory voter.

I did my little bit for the election. I let it play for 7 seconds and then skipped the ad. I think the advert was for 30 seconds, but skipping the advert on the 7th second meant that the Tories would be charged for the whole 30 seconds. If I skipped right on the 5th second, they wouldn't have been charged anything.

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Anonymous Coward

If you work in IT - especially as a contractor - then you simply can't afford to vote Labour.

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"I did think it was unusual that I was shown an advert by the Conservatives on YouTube, as I'm not (and have no intention to be) a Tory voter."

Do you live in a marginal constituency? If so, you are the only kind of voter worth targetting and you should expect most of the campaign spend from all parties to be aimed at you. If not, then all the talk about targeted advertising has just been proven bogus once again. You don't matter and no-one should be spending so much as a penny on you..

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"skipping the advert on the 7th second meant that the Tories would be charged for the whole 30 seconds. If I skipped right on the 5th second, they wouldn't have been charged anything."

I didn't know that. Thanks. I'm sure I bear to not watch for 7 seconds instead of 4 seconds if it helps :-)

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Anonymous Coward

I'm just going to leave this here,

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DMI2tIGi1Iw

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Anonymous Coward

Makes no difference who you vote for, the Civil Service runs the country, not the party we vote in. Always have and they always will. Sir Humphrey is in charge kiddies, so vote for whomever you wish, it makes no difference!

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Yeah, but our budgets change.

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Anonymous Coward

I work in IT, and I can afford to vote for Jeremy Corbyn. And I don't watch another five years of watching the weak being degraded by the Conservatives.

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Anonymous Coward

Rock and a hard place...

If you work in IT - especially as a contractor - then you simply can't afford to vote Labour.

If you work in IT - contractor or employee - then you would simply be daft to vote Conservative.

I could go on: UKIP, Greens, LibDem, SNP etc. basically, this is one of those elections where the majority of UK taxpayers will be stuffed for at least the next few years regardless of who wins...

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Re: Rock and a hard place...

Makes no difference who you vote for, the Civil Service runs the country, not the party we vote in.

Not even the civil service. The country is its people and the prosperity of the nation is shaped by the general attitude and approach of its population.

Vote tory liars and the weak suffer.

Vote labour liars and the economy goes like Greece (but without the sunshine) and ultimately the weak suffer anyway.

The wealthy will use their money to look after themselves regardless. If the weak are to be helped then it is us that need to step up for them. Voting and sitting back and hoping a government does all the work never succeeds.

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FAIL

If you work in IT you might be a tiny bit better off with a Tory government.

I work in IT.

My wife is a midwife. My daughter is a medical student.

I shall be voting Labour.

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Anonymous Coward

I work in IT, and I can afford to vote for Jeremy Corbyn.

Exhibit 1: Watch a turkey voting for Christmas.

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Anonymous Coward

If you work in IT you might be a tiny bit better off with a Tory government.

So our taxes help pay for your wife's and daughter's career and training, whilst you run yourself in a 'tax efficient' manner. Do you not see the irony here? Should we just leave bundles of fivers outside your front door to save on the logistics? Well, vote Labour if it makes you feel better - if they win, we'll be getting our very own Trump.

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"If you work in IT - especially as a contractor - then you simply can't afford to vote Labour."

That may be the case, but on the other hand, I'm not posh. I don't like fox hunting. I don't hunt. I don't have a double barrelled surname. I'm not English nor are my parents English. I don't live in a leafy part of the country. I don't have savings. I don't earn more than £50,000 per year. I don't speak the Queen's English. I don't drive a Jaguar, Mercedes, or A.N. Other luxury vehicle. I don't agree with people having to pay for university when those who went before us got it for free. I don't agree with paying to see doctor. I don't agree with paying for healthcare, nor should anyone have to pay for it (through taxation is fine like it is at the moment). I don't agree that Brexit means Brexit and that no deal is better than a bad deal. I don't agree that we should have paid over £10,000,000 to give Maggie Thatcher a state funeral. I don't agree that our trains, infrastructure etc should be privatised funding foreign companies who conduct their business in their own homeland in a nationalised rail system.

So, because of all that, why would the Conservatives want me to vote for them? Because I'm not one of them.

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Anonymous Coward

That may be the case, but on the other hand, I'm not posh...

Those without money always find it easy to give away other peoples.

Corbyn would be an unmitigated disaster. Odd how people get so riled about Trump yet are utterly blasé about the fate of their own country.

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Facepalm

IT MATTERS

It really winds me up when people say that some shadowy force (corporations, civil service, illuminati blah blah) runs the country so why bother voting. An MP in charge of a parliamentary select committee or sitting in the cabinet or at #10 can have a huge effect on outcomes for the country and the world. We didn't have to fight the Iraq war, we didn't have to bail out the banks in 2008. Those were political decisions that could have gone very differently, and did so in other countries with different politicians warming the benches.

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"Those without money always find it easy to give away other peoples."

And those with money always find it easy to get out of paying for stuff they're required to pay for. You know, like taxes for example?

"Corbyn would be an unmitigated disaster. Odd how people get so riled about Trump yet are utterly blasé about the fate of their own country."

Yes he would be a disaster. For those who have shares in Ariva, EDF, the big six energy companies, those with money invested in "bloodstocks" which have been hit by the fox hunting ban, those who trade in ivory (plenty of those people in the UK still!), private landlords, property developers who specialise in "luxury" apartments that can only exist by kicking out families from council houses in Barnet and have them relocated to Newcastle.

But for those who haven't a pot to piss in, who rely on the NHS to help keep them alive while they fight cancer, for those children who were born in to a family who don't give a shit about them, Corbyn is the only answer they have.

Because the majority of the country who are stuck in dead end jobs working in Sainsbury's, struggling to pay the rent that gets increased by landlords who don't give a shit about the property, you know ordinary Joe Soap - not to mention the people of Scotland who were promised the world to stay part of the UK and have got sod all back for it - have been betrayed by the Conservatives. They have been lied to. They have been swindled. All while they keep their friends who donate big sums of money to keep their position in check wank themselves off at the misery we're all facing while they're on a yacht in Monaco.

Yeah, Corbyn's a massive disaster.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: IT MATTERS

"political decisions that could have gone very differently, and did so in other countries with different politicians warming the benches."

Close, but no cigar... yet. How about

"...did so in other countries where Big Money (the City, the arms industry, etc) isn't pulling the strings."

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If you are a human being, you can not afford to not vote Labour.

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Exactly. Corbyn will raise Corporation Tax at a time that IT contractors are already being being hit by vanishing dividend relief, company pensions, NI rises, IR35 obstacles and a myriad other issues. The Tories are too socialist in the way they have dealt with small business so far, the only sweetener being the rise in the personal tax allowance. However, they are the only sensible choice when faced with the alternative.

Under Labour, as we've already seen under Sadique Khant , the fool wants to get rid of private contractors working for the public sector in London (not that this has been a success, it just means that everybody has to become G Cloud registered or go through the big consulting companies, thus doubling or tripling the cost to the public sector), and Jezza would follow through on this nationwide. I can see tax being deducted at source for private and public sector contractors under Labour to ensure their coffers are full to afford their giveaways like tuition fees, Railway nationalisation, the NHS, and the rest of their Santa's bucket list manifesto.

In other words, it would be a good time to liquidate (no tax for you Jeremy, sorry love) and get out of the UK to sunnier pastures less hostile, because the nice thing about IT is that you can work anywhere in the world.

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Anonymous Coward

Not using Facebook and running adblockers has its advantages then, I can read polices and manifestos as I please without them being shoved in my face in every online space...

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If the last half-century is anything to go by, you're wasting your time reading a manifesto. A manifesto promise is apparently a reason to force the House of Lords to withdraw their opposition to something, but not a reason to force the elected government to do it. And if you want a guide to policies, you are better off looking at a party's historic policy positions, since that's what their "current" policy will probably revert to if elected.

In short, there is nothing that happens during the actual campaign that voters should pay attention to. They should have been paying attention all their adult lives and anything that has suddenly changed in the last four weeks can just as easily suddenly change back again.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: I can read polices and manifestos as I please

"I can read polices and manifestos as I please without them being shoved in my face in every online space..."

In principle yes you can, though given that many politicians don't care about what's in the manifesto vs what's enacted afterwards, and the "justice system" certainly doesn't care, is there much point?

For people who think there is a point, for people who'd rather vote for policies than for personalities and Parties, have a look at

https://voteforpolicies.org.uk/

Now updated for 2017 manifestos, offers de-branded policy descriptions so you pick which ones you prefer, without knowing which party is offering them. At the end, it reveals which party's policies you have chosen.

Have a lot of fun.

[There was some PFY on the BBC a few days ago asking why there wasn't an app that could suggest who he should vote for based on his own personal preferences. This is what he was asking for.]

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Re: I can read polices and manifestos as I please

https://voteforpolicies.org.uk/

Should be required reading

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Anonymous Coward

Re: I can read polices and manifestos as I please

"https://voteforpolicies.org.uk/

Should be required reading"

Agreed. And BE QUICK ABOUT IT.

Though wouldn't it be even better if a manifesto implied some kind of real world commitment, as people would rightly expect with any normal commercial agreement (e.g. pension triple lock? student tuition fees? education education education?)?

In what other careers can people promise to do one thing before being appointed and then immediately do the direct opposite on taking power, and still get away with it Scot free, with a nice handy pension to boot even if they get sacked, and nobody is allowed to question it because... well, just because Daddy says so, apparently. (Yes I know, senior members of many corporate Boards of Directors do it too, and it shouldn't be allowed for them either, unless we can all have that opportunity).

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Anonymous Coward

If ad slinging

To farcebook normies slows down the flow of dickheads with pamphlets showing up at my door, im all for it.

Tell me the truth, give me the numbers, be honest about your motives. Thats all I ask of politicians.

You can flog all the wind and piss you like outside of that as I can simply ignore it.

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Trollface

Re: If ad slinging

"Tell me the truth, give me the numbers, be honest about your motives. That's all I ask of politicians."

Bless

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Re: If ad slinging

Are you suggesting Facebook ads are better than the age-old British interaction between candidates and innocent voters? Yes, you can switch off a Facebook ad but you can't get that warm glow you get after calling it a self-serving, hypocritical, mealy-mouthed, good-for-nothing drain on the taxpayer.

Mind you, where I am, I haven't had so much as a leaflet to pick up, sigh over, tear into small shreds and dispatch to the recycling bin. The election seems to be happening somewhere else entirely.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Doorstepping for votes

Things must be bad. Even the Labor party hasn't been around looking for votes.

The did send a leaflet via Royal Mail but it was franked mail and not a bulk delivery.

where are all those millions of new members JC brags about? Can't they get them mobilised? It would be nice to see some fresh cannon fodder on the stump.

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Re: If ad slinging

Are you suggesting Facebook ads are better than the age-old British interaction between candidates and innocent voters?

Agreed, it's quite satisfying to be able to tell them to take their lies somewhere else face to face.

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Re: If ad slinging

Tell me the truth, give me the numbers, be honest about your motives. Thats all I ask of politicians.

You want a pony to go with that?

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Anonymous Coward

And those of us...

who eschew all that Socia Media [redacted] can get on with our lives knowing that another form of advertising is passing us by. Bliss.

Yours,

Grumpy old Git {who has already voted}

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Anonymous Coward

Re: And those of us...

Too right.. I will never knowingly be grist for *uckerberg's mill. Without Arsebook users as a product to pimp to the highest bidder, the gimp would have to work for a living

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Re: And those of us...

the gimp would have to work for a living

Zed: "Bring out the gimp."

Maynard: "But the gimp's sleepin'."

Zed: "Well, I guess you're gonna have to go wake him up now, ain't you?"

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Happy

Re: And those of us...

I was hoping for a "lets be smug we don't use facebook" thread, and here it is.

I'm feeling smug because I don't have a facebook account, and my adblocker is making sure I don't see political spam anywhere else.

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Not not going to get any easier

If a third party that has an interest in getting a particular political party into office then they too can do advertising, this may not need to be tracked as gifts and payments to the party, so potential for lots of abuse of the system - as the Observer/Guardian article shows happened with Brexit targeted adverts. Not sure how this can be avoided or made illegal, we are all entitled to our voice, if I happen to have more money than someone else then I can force my voice to be heard in more places and more loudly.

Don't forget this is not just FB and twitter, all those tracking fake news articles that get linked from almost all websites as well as the news companies themselves are included by this type of activity, even having ad blockers and such like makes it difficult to get away from it.

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Re: Not not going to get any easier

"Not sure how this can be avoided or made illegal, we are all entitled to our voice, if I happen to have more money than someone else then I can force my voice to be heard in more places and more loudly."

You could impose restrictions on freedom of speech during an election campaign, much like we currently have restrictions on discussing court cases whilst they are running.

It wouldn't help with foreigners sticking their noses in, of course, but we'd probably pay less attention to election ads if they were all, as a matter of law, a case of some foreigner trying to game our election.

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Anonymous Coward

If you use facebook...

you're too stupid to vote. Any idea how we can enforce this?

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Re: If you use facebook...

I hate facebook as much as the next smug git, but any "[group] is too stupid to vote" pisses me off.

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Re: If you use facebook...

"you're too stupid to vote. Any idea how we can enforce this?"

Run fake election voting as a facebook opinion poll*. Anyone that "votes" there instead of actually voting self selects out of the election. From what little I know about facebook, it should be quick and trivial to set up. It won't get all facebook users, just the dumb ones.

As for the article topic. I hope Brittan gets this under control soon. If you want to see your future with virtually unregulated political advertising, just look at the U.S. elections**.

* I am not a facebook user, I found out about opinion polls from a quick search of "voting in facebook".

** I am a U.S. citizen that is disgusted by attack ads and blatant falsehoods in TV political advertising here.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: If you use facebook...

Be pissed off.

Democracy is a façade which legitimises oligarchical rule. Misinformed, irrational voters with only herd conscience are easily tricked into internalising the values of the ruling class, against their own interests. They deliver us all into exploitation.

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Re: If you use facebook...

So, we should just ignore the uninformed public and allow a self selecting cabal to choose our govt for us?

It's a plan that has advantages, but it also involves changing our nation's name to the People's Democratic Republic of Great Britain and Northern Island.

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Re: If you use facebook...

"So, we should just ignore the uninformed public and allow a self selecting cabal to choose our govt for us?"

You chose the wrong example. It worked for the Venetian Republic for about 700 years, during a lot of which time she was a major world power.

Athenian democracy lasted only about 50 years, but that was a big oligarchy - of those rich enough to be able to afford hoplite service. In modern terms, that's sufficient disposable income to be able to afford a light tank.

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Re: If you use facebook...

Well, on this side of the pond we had Hillary supporters who seriously thought you could vote through Twitter.

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Re: If you use facebook...

Democracy is a noble idea and said to be the best system of all the ones that have been tried.

Or it would be if people could be trusted to operate it properly. All elections I've seen have been lies based, and say and do whatever it takes to get votes and worry about the excuses later.

The people that make the difference in election are the gullible and the thick who believe all this manifesto BS, and personality salience charm and spin.

It would be good if politicians could be held to account as to what they put in their manifesto and what turns out to be lies should be taken as criminal actions in the same way as a perjurer is criminal.

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Big Brother

It's not that Democracy is a bad system

It's more that it has been overpowered by 'free market' extremists and to hell with the little people and basic common sense. We've been reduced to little more than cattle in service of The Sacred Engine.

Little surprise then that a leader who (for all his faults) wants to improve our lot has suffered an unceasing barrage of establishment screeching and shit-flinging.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: self selected cabal

"So, we should just ignore the uninformed public and allow a self selecting cabal to choose our govt for us?"

A self selected cabal is already governing the UK (England in particular). It is in the interests of that cabal that the public remain uninformed. Actually, misinformed would be a better word.

Exhibit 1: any hardcopy Daily Mail. Sun, Times, Telegraph, or Express will do just as well.

Exhibit 2: the former Manchester Guardian and the former Scott Trust.

Additionally, readers may or may not have noticed in the last few days that various UK charities who may or may not have valid points to make aren't getting the opportunity to speak, because (they say) they have been gagged by recent anti-lobbying laws. Just as was predicted when the laws were going through Parliament.

Q: What do you think of western democracy?

A: I think it would be a good idea.

(OK, it's not quite what was said, but it's good enough for government work)

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Re: If you use facebook...

The majority of my social media circle are Labour Remainers. It's been particularly amusing/depressing watching the same people who complained about lies and misrepresentations in the Brexit campaign now blindly reposting anything pro-Labour or anti-Tory without doing even the most basic fact checks. When called on it the reply seems to be "it doesn't matter if it's 100% accurate as long as it gets the desired result".

I've given up on all social media for the last month solely to protect my blood pressure.

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Re: If you use facebook...

But, it is SOO amusing to watch their pained howling all over Facebook after Trump won, Brexit and under the last Tory victory. It's worth voting Tory again just to watch them go into full on "It's rigged"/"I can't believe that my Facebook echo chamber doesn't reflect everybody"/"Everybody I know voted Labour"/"Why are stupid people allowed to vote"/"Why are people remembering beyond the last 3 weeks of Jeremey Corbyn's leadership?" mode.

When Labour win, the rich threaten to (and often do) leave the country. When the Conservatives win, Labour supporters go out and smash stuff. Imagine what Momentum's thugs will get up to? They're already making lists of all the houses with Conservative signs in the window to burgle and attack them, so in a way it's good that we will see their true faces with their beady eyes when the Tories win next Saturday.

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Does the Electoral Commiss know how much the Russians spent on advertising on Facebook?

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