Project: Data-driven campaigns: intended and unintended consequences for democracy

Acronym DATADRIVEN (Reference Number: 462-19-030)
Project Topic Data-driven political campaigns are on the rise. Concerns have been voiced that practices like online political microtargeting techniques are harmful for democracy. These concerns grew after the unexpected outcome of the US presidential elections in 2016, the Brexit vote in the UK, and several recent elections in Europe. However, it is unclear if data-driven campaigns using online microtargeting techniques are an actual threat to democracy. The project will focus on both the intended and unintended consequences of data-driven targeting and digital persuasion. In light of ongoing political and societal turmoil, investigating how citizens may be persuaded in a turbulent age and in a changing media landscape has never been more important. The study will focus on micro (consequences for citizens), meso (consequences for political elites), and macro level effects (consequences for democracy). The project will address four research questions: (RQ1) How do organizations shape elections campaigns by targeting potential voters online during elections? (RQ2) What are the constitutional and legislative frameworks shaping the extent and nature of data-driven campaigning in European countries? (RQ3) How are data-driven targeting practices perceived? (RQ4) To what extent do data-driven targeting practices actually affect voters? The project is novel as it (1) extends and empirically tests a theoretical framework of data-driven campaigning, while (2) using a mixture of research methods and a (3) comparative perspective. DATADRIVEN will offer a deeper understanding of online data-driven targeting techniques during elections in four European countries (i.e., Netherlands, Germany, Austria, and United Kingdom).
Network Governance
Call Democratic Governance in a Turbulent Age

Project partner

Number Name Role Country
1 Universiteit van Amsterdam Coordinator Netherlands
2 University of Manchester Partner United Kingdom
3 University of Sheffield Partner United Kingdom
4 University of Vienna Partner Austria