Another Silicon Valley ‘Slip Up:’ Snap ‘Accidentally’ Gave Democratic Campaigns Access to Republican Voter Data

The Associated Press
The Associated Press

Social media giant Snap reportedly made an “error” that gave leading Democratic campaigns and party committees access to a huge repository of Republican voter data, allowing them to tailor their midterm ads.

Axios reports the social media giant Snap claims to have made a mistake that allowed top Democratic campaigns and party committees to tap into a huge repository of Republican voter data, allowing them to hone and tailor their midterm ads.

Snap says that it is working hard to fix the issue and ensure it doesn’t happen again. But the situation brings to light the vulnerabilities of Snap’s internal systems and the sensitivities of having access to huge amounts of voter data.

(Photo by Carl Court/Getty Images)

Stacey Abrams

Politician Stacey Abrams (Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images for The Hollywood Reporter)

On Snap and other social media platforms such as Facebook and Twitter, political advertisers can target their ads to specific user segments, often relying on data brokers that collect information on voters’ interests, activities, spending habits, and various other metrics.

Snap’s political ad archive shows that multiple Democratic and progressive groups were able to target their ads using data maintained by the Republican-aligned firm i360. The firm is connected with the political network founded by billionaire Charles Koch.

The data was used to target Snapchat ads by groups including the Democratic National Committee, the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, the Planned Parenthood Action Fund, and Georgia Democrat Stacey Abrams’ gubernatorial campaign.

i360 and its Democratic counterpart, TargetSmart, make data available to all advertisers on the platform but limit availability to a preapproved list of organizations. “Unfortunately, due to an internal mistake, we didn’t follow this usual process — which resulted in these two companies’ services being used by advertisers outside of the process, impacting a small number of ads,” a Snap spokesperson told Axios.

The spokesperson added: “We take full responsibility for this mistake, and as soon as we became aware of it, we took action to correct the issue, notified the two vendors, and are working to rectify payments to each of them. We are also taking steps to ensure this doesn’t happen again.”

Read more at Axios here.

Lucas Nolan is a reporter for Breitbart News covering issues of free speech and online censorship. Follow him on Twitter @LucasNolan


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