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Pay-per-click political campaigns manipulating public opinion | Seattle Times

A controversial use of big data by Yahoo and Google to try to change voters opinions, for the presidential elections. Do you think that a rogue candidate would be ready to run large click fraud campaigns to deplete their opponents advertising budgets?

Here's the article:

Do online ads targeted directly at you make your online life easier or does it creep you out?

What if the ad is from a political campaign?

Questions about data tracking and personal privacy have been roiling in recent years with the rise of online activites and advertising and technologies that can collect and sort vast amounts of data.

More recently, the issue of how all that applies to political campaigns has gained prominence. Some groups say targeted online political ads are no different than mailings from political campaigns. Other see sublte — and far-reaching — dangers when such digital advertising tools are used by political campaigns.

Last week, investigative journalism organization Pro Publica published a report saying that Microsoft and Yahoo are selling to political campaigns the ability to target online ads.

The online report says the companies provide users' names, Zip codes and other information that users provide when they register for services such as free email.

The companies don't notify users that their information is being used for political targeting, Pro Publica notes.

It's certainly not new for political campaigns to target certain voters via methods such as direct mail.

And it's pretty common business practice now for companies to place online ads specifically tailored to the user

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