Title

How Political Parties Are Exploiting the Youth: Voter Demobilization and Information Gerrymandering

Submitter and Co-author information

Sophia Lutfallah Ms., University of WindsorFollow

Standing

Undergraduate

Type of Proposal

Oral Research Presentation

Challenges Theme

Open Challenge

Faculty

Faculty of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences

Faculty Sponsor

Dr. Jim Wittebols, Dr. Jamey Essex

Abstract/Description of Original Work

The internet’s algorithmic structure of privatization promotes one-sided thinking, and youth’s dependency on the internet makes them more vulnerable to accepting only the information that makes it through their personalized algorithm. Political parties sometimes abuse algorithmic personalization by sending tailored ads to undecided voters with the goal of demobilization. Many undecided voters are young and first-time voters-- consisting mainly of those who are dependent on the internet for political news and candidate information. This effectively makes internet-dependent youth primary targets of online demobilization efforts-- directly undermining the democratic discourse of public participation. If tailored political advertising is, without disclosure, shaping our voting behaviour and how we think about politics, the result is information gerrymandering. This is defined by Jonathan Zittrain (2013) as “the selective presentation of information by an intermediary to meet its agenda rather than to serve its users.” Since current regulations cannot prevent young and first-time voters from being targeted by demobilization efforts, I seek to determine what kinds of voter mobilization and education efforts are possible to discourage information gerrymandering. I have administered a survey to first- and second-year classes across various disciplines to gather data about young and first-time voters. The data from the survey should help inform possible solutions to the issue of information gerrymandering.

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How Political Parties Are Exploiting the Youth: Voter Demobilization and Information Gerrymandering

The internet’s algorithmic structure of privatization promotes one-sided thinking, and youth’s dependency on the internet makes them more vulnerable to accepting only the information that makes it through their personalized algorithm. Political parties sometimes abuse algorithmic personalization by sending tailored ads to undecided voters with the goal of demobilization. Many undecided voters are young and first-time voters-- consisting mainly of those who are dependent on the internet for political news and candidate information. This effectively makes internet-dependent youth primary targets of online demobilization efforts-- directly undermining the democratic discourse of public participation. If tailored political advertising is, without disclosure, shaping our voting behaviour and how we think about politics, the result is information gerrymandering. This is defined by Jonathan Zittrain (2013) as “the selective presentation of information by an intermediary to meet its agenda rather than to serve its users.” Since current regulations cannot prevent young and first-time voters from being targeted by demobilization efforts, I seek to determine what kinds of voter mobilization and education efforts are possible to discourage information gerrymandering. I have administered a survey to first- and second-year classes across various disciplines to gather data about young and first-time voters. The data from the survey should help inform possible solutions to the issue of information gerrymandering.