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Twitter brags that your location data could swing Britain's next election

Daniel Cooper, @danielwcooper
January 27, 2015
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The UK is 100 days away from one of the most contentious general elections in a generation, but locals shouldn't expect to be visited by a door-to-door campaigner. Instead, Britons that also have a Twitter account are going to find that their social feed has been taken over by political campaigners. In a pitch both to advertisers and politicians, Twitter's Gordon MacMillan boasts that the service's location information is now so precise, it can target voters in individual postcodes. Anyone, therefore, who lives in an area that's likely to decide the fate of the election will find no respite by staring into their smartphone.

In a blog post on Twitter's advertising site, MacMillan talks about how parties can push specific local issues and invite users to ask questions of prospective MPs. The tools on offer can also be used to "raise the profile" of candidates who may not be as well-known as the incumbent. Finally, parties could craft specific campaigns for local communities and try to win hearts and minds that way. Of course, if you'd prefer not to be grouped together like this, you can always prevent Twitter's mobile apps from accessing your location data by visiting your smartphone's settings menu.

Some may scoff at the idea that the site itself could turn an election, but since -- according to Twitter -- around 23 percent of the population use the service, it's not that fantastical. The UK itself has also been looking for ways to encourage engagement, and the Digital Democracy Commission recently concluded that online voting should be offered to Britons by 2020. Hell, maybe Twitter can offer its services in this area, you know: Retweet for Conservative, Favorite for Labour...

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