You have heard about it in the news: Psychographics. This is something I know a little about, as I studied psychographics in college. Many of my classmates just didn’t get it, and now all Americans are coping with the fact that their data from social media has been used in a deliberate attempt to sway their votes in the last presidential election.
Normally, psychographics is used to shape advertising for companies, like radio stations who want to appeal to hard rockin’ men, or maybe their girlfriends. Movie producers will use psychographics to test ending to movies. Politicians will use psychographics to understand what their constituents want, and word their political ads and speeches to show they are the ones to fulfill their needs.
Even a clever blogger could study other blogs and figure out what they really believe and pander to that. A clever blogger could craft blogs to appeal to their current followers even better. A really clever blogger could understand what motivates other readers so well that they could have a hit with every blog. (I wish I was so clever.)
So how are your Facebook posts of family, fun, comedy, and how your day went useful to advertisers? All of this information gives your basic demographic information: sex, age, married or single, and number of children, how old your children are, type and number of pets, and show an advertiser what you might need to make your life easier, happier, prettier, and more fun.
In addition, every like, can provide information about your likes and dislikes. You don’t just like flowers and pets. You like a political ad and share certain topics over and over again. If you support the police, as opposed to black lives matter, you have registered a “vote” showing your political leanings.
There is nothing wrong with supporting the police. There is nothing wrong with acknowledging black lives matter. In fact, the two things are not mutually exclusive. It is only advertising presented as opinion that makes the two things seem mutually exclusive.
Even more powerful, is to make advertising look like news. This is the real fake news. One of our son’s saw an ad presented as a newscast of the showing Seattle’s Space Needle being moved by tractor trailer to a new location. (I was unable to find a video of this.) My son could not be persuaded until he saw the Space Needle in its place in Seattle.
But know there is some clever advertiser, maybe someone who has no business involving themselves in our election, taking your click, and putting them together with other clicks, and use them to craft messages to get an emotional reaction from you. Messages that look like someone’s opinion, or a news article.
You don’t even have to agree with the messages. You see the messages over and over again. As the messages get crazier, maybe you begin to wonder. With all the smoke, you start looking for the fire.
These messages are tweaked to mix truth with speculation. There are kind, well meaning people willing to believe the most outlandish speculation. There are people who can get carried along with the crowd as emotions rise.
A tool that started as a way to bring us goods, wonderful entertainment, and services to make our lives better, has been used to manipulate us.
Equating common sense gun legislation with Nazi Germany’s attempt to exterminate Jews, is an exaggeration of paranoid fear. I have several friends who have shared that on Facebook. They are all excited that something drastic will be done. Our right to bear arms is the principle they agree with. Just because it originates with the NRA does not mean it is real. Do the majority of gun owners agree? No. Every survey says most gun owners want common sense gun control. We get to decide what is common sense.
The solution is to be skeptical. If something seems extreme, that you have not seen someplace else, anyplace else, except another social media site, you may have something designed to manipulate you.
You are bombarded by adds for everything. Click on Wayfair once and it will be forever be in Facebook feed. Don’t be a sucker for every add that comes along, and that is what these posts are, designed to look like a person’s opinion.