How to become a president using Big Data

Companies are drowning in information on a day-to-day basis, sometimes they have so much data that they do not have the time, the money, the human resources or even the data-processing application software to store and analyze the data in their possession.


That is where big data comes in. Big data refers to large volume of data that a company needs to handle every day, how they analyze it looking for insights that leads to better decision making, and informed strategic business moves that help reduce costs, time or money, amongst other benefits [1].

On top of this, big data is aiding companies to predict customer´s behavior. A clear example of this is targeted advertising. This means placing ads based either on demographics, on the consumer´s previous buying history or on behavior [2]. We face targeted advertising every day, you might see this when you receive “special recommendations” on Facebook or Amazon, for instance. Their algorithms know what we like or what we are more prone to buy based purely on our personalities. There is no need for us to search for a trip to Thailand or a pair of shoes to know that we would be interested to see related promotions. You might think that this comes in handy, without telling them what we like, they give us relevant information, they make our lives easier, right?

Well, it might be the case -at least for some people- when it comes to purchases, but what about politics? What if these targeted advertising could not only persuade us to buy a certain smartphone, but could also manipulate us to vote for the candidate that spends the most money?
There are indications that Cambridge Analytica was hired by the Trump campaign to persuade -rather manipulate- Americans to vote for him, but how? Cambridge Analytica claims on their website that it uses data to change audience behavior [3]. By having hundreds of thousands of Americans taking a survey, they created a model that predicts everyone´s personalities. This model might know you better than yourself as it sees through things that you cannot even admit to yourself [4].

Personality drives behavior and behavior influences how people vote, therefore, if a model predicts your personality, it can also manipulate who to vote for. By knowing your personality trades, politicians can choose the message that would be the most convincing for you [5], so you will be surrounded by targeted articles, videos, photos or ads that trigger certain emotions that would make you vote for that candidate without even realizing it.


Persuasion and manipulation from companies and candidates have always existed, but it has never been clearer to us how they perform this. Are we going to keep allowing it? Do we even have a say on it?




[1]. SAS. Big Data: What it is and why it matters. SAS Insights, Big Data Insights. Retrieved July 22th from:

[2]. Magloff L. (2018). Examples of Targeted Advertising. Chron. Small Business. Advertising & Marketing. Retrieved July 25th from:

[3]. Cambridge Analytica. (2018). Data drives all we do. Retrieved July 23rd from:

[4] [5].  Segall L. (2017). Mostly Humans: Electric Sheep. CNN tech. Retrieved July 24th from:


3 comments on “How to become a president using Big Data”

  1. Hi Lorena,
    I think that this development is very dangerous. In addition to your example of very targeted efforts to manipulate voters decisions, political influence by recommendation systems can also happen without ill intent. Social Media platforms may only show you news that are “relevant” to your interests and opinions and thus pull you further to one political side. Thus it is very easy to get caught in your own media bubble which are very hard to escape.

  2. Lorena, good blog about voting and big data.
    I do agree that big data will be use more and more in the future for political decisions. With big data, Machine Learning (ML) and AI, a candidate can even create his views and positions on different subjects from results of big data (historic data) analytics. What i mean is that a candidate can put aside his own convictions and just for the purpose of winning an election, he can run and create a list of his positions on different subjects that are being discuss in society based on the results he gets from big data analytics. Hence, giving himself a well good position to win the majority of voters . A similar approach is use in trading: big data/AR/ML are giving Hedge funds that are applying them to trading a decision-based tool to buy or sell stocks and increase profitability.

  3. Hi Lorena,

    Nice blog post on big data and its effects on decision making! It seems as though big data plays
    a huge role in our lives in terms of cognitive thinking. It would be interesting to see how exactly big data/ads have affected the way we think, and make decisions as it is obvious that model-based ads have manipulated our way of thinking.


Comments are closed.