The social media election and May’s Dalek holiday…

I can predict with confidence that Jeremy Corbyn is going to win the election and that anyone who says differently is part of an establishment conspiracy.

Or, rather, my Facebook feed can foresee that unlikely outcome. As has been widely noted, social media forums can act as a sort of isolating bubble that encloses the like-minded under one roof.

From such a comradely huddle, the world can appear different than it would from another bubble. Not all my Facebook friends are followers of Corbyn, but a fair few must be, because the hopeful stories keep popping up, a stream of posts telling me that I mustn’t believe the official version of events.

I’ve just checked and someone is sharing a Channel 4 post in which the author China Mieville says that Corbyn’s policies have been “despicably slandered”.

Soon enough there will be something up from the left-wing Canary site or perhaps Off-Guardian, which is often concerned with “media fakery” (rough translation: everything you’ve been told is wrong) and the lies everyone else tells. I still prefer the actual Guardian, but that probably marks me down as a creature of the establishment (whatever that is: the ‘establishment’ in conspiracy theory terms can be almost anything you’d like it to be).

I receive nothing praising the all-round wonderfulness of Theresa May, which says something about the company I keep. There must be people on Facebook who go for Mrs Maybe, although not at my end of the ‘street’.

Before looking further at Facebook and politics, I see there are reports this morning that Mrs Maybe is continuing her people-free pilgrimage around the country, visiting a community centre in Bristol to which members of the community had not been invited. As always, Mrs Maybe dodges the hazardous business of meeting people – heavens, they are so unpredictable and might even disagree with her.

As for press conferences, journalists just ask awkward questions. And as for the leaders of the other parties, oh, she has no intention of lowering herself by meeting them for anything so demeaning as a TV debate.

No, instead she will continue her Dalek holiday, robotically barking out dull slogans while besotted young men wearing very blue ties beam at her in an adoring crush.

As Mrs Maybe goes around the country pretending that she likes to meet the people, much of the real effort of elections now takes place online, especially on Facebook.

The ‘friendly’ side of this comes with all those posts shared by friends; then you have the political adverts sent to Facebook users, often based on what they have ‘liked’ in the past. Now experts in digital campaigning have designed a free program which allows voters to see how they are being targeted with tailored propaganda.

This software is called Who Targets Me? and it can be added to a Google Chrome browser so that voters can see how the main parties are inserting political messages into their Facebook feeds.

Sounds like a good idea to me, although if I receive any targeted adverts from the Tories, I will be amazed. I may even sue. The trouble is, I am still struggling to come up with the required enthusiasm to consider voting for Corbyn’s lot.

At the last election – you know, the one a few weeks back – the Conservatives are reported to have spent £1.2m on digital campaigning, against Labour’s £160,000; this time around, Labour is said to be pitching in with a million. Does all this money really make a difference or does it just make Facebook ever richer?

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