Centre for Information Management

News and activities

13 February 2019

The datafication of the American voter and the future of mass-targeted campaigning

Presented By Professor Jennifer Stromer-Galley - Syracuse University

About this event

Targeted paid advertising through social media reached historic highs in the 2016 U.S. presidential campaign. In this talk Jennifer details the efforts by the presidential candidates to use social media for what she calls mass-targeted campaigning. With the increasingly sophisticated ways to advertise on social media platforms like Twitter and Facebook, political campaigns can more effectively engage in large-scale efforts to profile and target to increasingly intersectional voters. This mass-targeting, alongside controlled interactivity through their free social media accounts, rounds out the strategic communication efforts on digital media. Campaigns increasingly are turning to social media to not only mobilize their supporters but to persuade undecideds. The challenge to our democracy is the inability for journalists, scholars, and the public to monitor mass-targeted persuasion and for scholars to predict its effects.


Jennifer Stromer-Galley is Professor in the School of Information Studies and Director for the Center for Computational and Data Sciences at Syracuse. She is an affiliated faculty member with the Department of Communication and Rhetorical Studies and with the Department of Political Science, and she is Past President of the Association of Internet Researchers.

Jenny has been studying "social media" since before it was called social media, studying online interaction and strategic communication in a variety of contexts, including political forums and online games. She has published over 50 journal articles, proceedings, and book chapters. Her award-winning book, Presidential Campaigning in the Internet Age (Oxford University Press), provides a history of presidential campaigns as they have adopted and adapted to digital communication technologies. She is a Fellow at the Tow Center for Digital Journalism at Columbia University. The Fellowship supported a collaborative research project, Illuminating 2016, studying the 2016 presidential campaign by collecting and analyzing the candidates' and public's postings on social media. Stromer-Galley is Principal Investigator of a $5.2 million project called Trackable Reasoning and Analysis for Collaboration and Evaluation (TRACE) project. Funded by the Intelligence Advanced Research Program Activity (IARPA), the project aims to experiment with reasoning, reporting, and crowdsourcing techniques to improve analysis. She is also co-PI on a Twitter Conversational Health grant to study various dimensions of problematic conversation on the platform, and on a WhatsApp grant to study political misinformation in Brazil. Mentoring the next generation of scholars and social entrepreneurs is something she particularly enjoys.