Influencing the European elections: Parties using Facebook and Instagram to sway voters

The upcoming European elections on June 9 present a significant risk of disinformation and political manipulation, as warned by the EU Agency for Cybersecurity (Enisa) back in October. The rise of generative artificial intelligence (AI) technology poses a threat, as it can produce convincing texts and hyper-realistic videos that can sway public opinion and influence votes.

Aside from the spread of hoaxes and misinformation, political parties are utilizing digital advertising tools provided by social networks to personalize and segment their messages in an effort to influence the electorate. While audience segmentation – dividing groups of individuals based on shared characteristics – is a common practice in political marketing, microsegmentation, which analyzes individual interests, is not allowed in the EU due to privacy regulations.

Despite being prohibited, some parties in Europe continue to engage in microsegmentation practices. In Spain, there was an attempt to reform laws to allow parties to collect personal data from web and social media users regarding their political opinions, but the Constitutional Court ruled against this change. Organizations like Noyb and Xnet are working to expose and combat these tactics to uphold the integrity of elections.

Concerns surrounding microtargeting and the manipulation of voters through digital data analysis are shared among experts and legislators. The practice threatens the democratic process as it can create information bubbles and sway voters based on psychological manipulation. Efforts by the European Commission and platforms like Google, Meta, and TikTok are being made to counter the spread of disinformation and misleading political advertising in the lead-up to the elections.

The use of generative AI and deepfake technology in creating hyperrealistic videos poses an additional risk to the integrity of elections. There are fears that these technologies could have a direct influence on voter behavior, as seen in recent reports of foreign interference in elections using AI-generated content. Safeguarding the electoral process and ensuring the security of cyber infrastructures are crucial steps in preserving trust in democratic institutions.

By Samantha Robertson

As a seasoned content writer at newsderf.com, my passion for storytelling and creativity shines through in every article I craft. With a keen eye for detail and a knack for research, I thrive on translating complex topics into engaging reads that resonate with our diverse audience. My goal is to inform, entertain, and inspire readers through thought-provoking content that leaves a lasting impact. Join me on this exciting journey as we explore the world of news together.

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