Social Media Company Snap Claims They Accidentally Allowed Democrats Access To GOP Voter Data

Snapchat voter data
Attribution 2.0 Generic (CC BY 2.0) Perzonseo Webbyra 4/20/16

For those who don’t know it, voter data is a big and complicated business – and in modern data-driven politics, it’s worth its weight in gold.

So it’s a big deal that social media platform Snap recently enabled Democrat campaigns and committees to gain access to a large amount of Republican voter data that was used in midterm election ads. 

The company claims it was an accident and that they are working to fix the situation.

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Others Affected

Axios reports that while data from both Democrat and Republican firms were impacted by the slip up, GOP voter data was affected more. As anyone who accesses social media knows, most platforms allow political advisers from both parties to target their ads to very specific demographics.

Knowing who your opponent is talking to, when, and what they’re saying is the name of the game. 

One of the GOP-leaning firms involved is i360, part of the Koch network. The Democrat National Committee, Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, the Planned Parenthood action fund, and Georgia Democrat gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams were all able to access i360’s data for use in their own ads.

i360’s Democrat counterpart TargetSmart is also a data broker, though they only allow Democrat organizations to make use of the data. But Snap’s mishap allowed conservative outlet Daily Wire to use their data. 

Ultimately, Snap claims that the ads that used the accessible data amount to a small amount of all the political ads running.

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Snap Says It Was ‘Internal Mistake’

A spokesman for Snap told Axios,

Unfortunately, due to an internal mistake, we didnโ€™t follow this usual process โ€” which resulted in these two companies’ services being used by advertisers outside of the process, impacting a small number of ads. We take full responsibility for this mistake, and as soon as we became aware of it, we notified the two Democratic and Republican vendors who were equally impacted, and took action to correct the issue. We are also taking steps to ensure this doesnโ€™t happen again.”

While there’s no evidence to point to a deliberate action, conservatives are not believing the “accident” story, as a quick perusal of social media shows.

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