Dark posts were also used to depress voter turnout among key groups of democratic voters. “In this election, dark posts were used to try to suppress the African-American vote,” wrote journalist and Open Society fellow McKenzie Funk in a New York Times editorial. “According to Bloomberg, the Trump campaign sent ads reminding certain selected black voters of Hillary Clinton’s infamous ‘super predator’ line. It targeted Miami’s Little Haiti neighborhood with messages about the Clinton Foundation’s troubles in Haiti after the 2010 earthquake.’”
Because dark posts are only visible to the targeted users, there’s no way for anyone outside of Analytica or the Trump campaign to track the content of these ads. In this case, there was no SEC oversight, no public scrutiny of Trump’s attack ads. Just the rapid-eye-movement of millions of individual users scanning their Facebook feeds.
In the weeks leading up to a final vote, a campaign could launch a $10-100 million dark post campaign targeting just a few million voters in swing districts and no one would know. This may be where future ‘black-swan’ election upsets are born.
“These companies,” Moore says, “have found a way of transgressing 150 years of legislation that we’ve developed to make elections fair and open.”