Are you a digital citizen, looking to intervene in the next UK General Election? Here's your toolbox
In the 2017 snap General Election in the UK, the “London College of Political Technologists” at Newspeak House created something called an Election Tech Handbook (2017 version). This was a list of digital projects, information resources, and social groups: its aim was to help techies (and citizens) wrest some control of the battle of ideas back from well-funded and established political players (whether they be traditional representative parties, their backers, and perhaps shadier foreign operators).
Well, as a snap General Election in the UK seems to be permanently on the brink of being announced, the Election Tech Handbook is back, in its 2019 version. It has four main sections
a page of Projects, software initiatives either up and running or looking for help;
a very useful page of Political Data, including everything from political donations to the exact Cyan number for political party colours
an “Events and community” page, which has both links to supportive networks and a calendar of events
and finally a de rigour WhatsApp forum for discussions and call-outs about the foregoing
Some of the projects this year are really worth profiling - for example:
whotargets.me “We’re working out which demographics political campaigns online are targeting with ads, and what messages they’re using in their communication. We’ve developed a browser extension that detects campaign ads shown to you on Facebook and keeps a tally of who’s advertising the most. We’re aggregating the data to build maps of where specific campaigns are targeting. Also working on electoral/transparency reform. Opportunity to expand to YT/Twitter/Email campaigns. Please get in touch you want to work on the project (tech/communications/law experience very welcome: https://whotargets.me/en/get-in-touch/”
Advote.org - “voter-run billboard adverts. This is a trial of a new service to combat mechanised profile-targeted digital advertising. For every 1000 registered voters who vote for a particular message in a constituency - we will post it on a high traffic billboard. We have some budget and can help crowd fund, so to launch the service we're looking for campaigns with strong communities behind them but with scant funds for advertising. If you have a campaign that needs an innovative way to cut through get in touch!
Get Bad News - “A game that puts you in the mindset of propagandists and agents promoting fake news, propaganda and hate-speech to help the user understand how fake news is made and promoted… In Bad News, you take on the role of fake news-monger. Drop all pretense of ethics and choose a path that builds your persona as an unscrupulous media magnate. But keep an eye on your ‘followers’ and ‘credibility’ meters. Your task is to get as many followers as you can while slowly building up fake credibility as a news site. But watch out: you lose if you tell obvious lies or disappoint your supporters!”
There’s not only much more here, but the Election Tech Handbook invites you to add your own project, whether half-completed or seeking assistance. Newspeak House itself is always worth keeping in touch with, as it became something of a digital nerve-centre for political activism around the 2017 General Election.
People get ready...