How Facebook influenced the Brexit vote and US election

New study shows

Facebook was the decisive factor in both the US presidential election and the Brexit vote, according to those who ran the campaigns.

BBC Panorama spoke to those in charge of the digital campaigns for Donald Trump’s Republican Party and the political consultant behind Leave.EU’s referendum strategy – they said that Facebook was decisive in both wins.

The social network is now expected to play a key role in the British general election. Critics says this matters because Facebook is largely unregulated and unaccountable when it comes to politics.

Facebook says it complies with all regulations that apply to it. Political strategist Gerry Gunster, from Leave.EU, said that Facebook was a game changer for the Brexit campaign:

“You can say to Facebook, I would like to make sure that I can micro-target that fisherman in certain parts of the UK so that they are specifically hearing that if you vote to leave that you will be able to change the way that the regulations are set for the fishing industry.

“Now I can do the exact same thing for people who live in the Midlands who are struggling because the factory has shut down. So I may send a specific message through Facebook to them that nobody else sees.”

Gary Coby, the director of advertising for the Republican party,  tells Panorama that  Facebook was also the key to Donald Trump’s victory.

“We take the name, address, phone number, email and we can take those pieces of data and send it on to Facebook,” he said.

“Facebook then matches them to the user’s profile. So if you are on Facebook, I can then match you and put you into a bucket of users that I can then target.”

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