Elections and social media


I’m old enough to remember telephones without caller ID. When the phone rang, you answered it or just missed the call. We never had answering machines.

Of course, these days we have caller ID everywhere and our devices also work as answering machines. I remember the advice given me by a superintendent who was giving a session on productivity and his advice was to not break your work routine by stopping to answer the phone – let it go to voice mail and get back to them on your time. He’d set aside an amount of time each day just for phone work because he wanted to be in control of his time.

We’re now in election mode and parties want to reach out to as many people as possible. With technology, it’s easier than ever.

Back in the day, it wasn’t uncommon to get a call from a person working for a political party or a polling company during election time to talk about your voting preferences. I used to get a kick out of the brief discussions because it was clear that they were working from a script. My in-laws used to keep election materials near the phone and would engage in full conversations about the calling party or the other parties on the ballot.

I always envisioned a crowded room with all kinds of people on the phone making the calls. They’d get the white pages where everyone’s phone number was listed and work through the list of the ones they’d been assigned to.

This week, I got a text, not a phone message, from someone/something calling themselves the Conservative Party of Canada. I was quite surprised because I don’t tend to give out my number to many people. So, I’m wondering if they purchased phone numbers from my provider or they just have a bot that just goes through every possible number sending out the message. In this day and age, there’s no reason for that crowded room. Just have a programmer write some code and run up and down a series of numbers.

I think we’ve all had a look and a chuckle with some of the videos that have been created for the parties recently and how they’ve been negatively received. They’re fairly harmless – just created and sent to the masses. You can play them or not and nobody really knows or cares since there’s no way to track who actually sees them.

The text message was a different thing. It is trackable by nature. The sender knows if it’s been received. A reply confirms that it was received and sends back information about you personally.

Now, the question was simply whether or not the Conservative Party could count on my support. It could indeed have been asked by them but as I thought about it, it could be just as easily asked by the Liberal Party or the New Democratic Party or any of the other parties or Fred next door. I did a reverse lookup on the number and the best I could get was the number came from Guelph and Rogers was the provider.

Then I thought about the message that would be delivered if I did reply. Assuming that it did indeed come from the Conservative Party.

  • YES – they might feel good about this or take the lead from their provincial counterparts and invoice me
  • NO – they might feel bad about this and use this as an opportunity to send me more information to try and influence me or even drop by for a discussion
  • UNSURE – this might be the start of a series of attempts to flip me to their side

In the big scheme of things, I don’t vote for anyone from Guelph or for the leader of the Conservative Party. I vote for the candidate of choice in my own region. Since we’re still early in the process, I don’t know all of the candidates yet. I’ve seen blue signs and orange signs but that’s about it. I find it surprising; after all, this is the home of Eugene Whelan.

I’m sure that we’re going to see more and more use of social media as the campaign progresses. After all, it’s free or cheap and doesn’t require buying traditional media time or an airplane ride to a political rally. Those rallies could be done online in other ways. And, if we are to judge by the first attempts at videos, we could see more of them. Hopefully, the developers are learning from the replies and are getting better at it.

We do live in a time where we’re increasingly concerned about our privacy and the things that we do online. I find it more than a little disturbing that someone or Fred got my phone number and is using it for their purposes. We’ve seen just this week how Drake was affected by having his home address published on social media.

Has anyone else been the object of text message questionnaires? How do you feel about them? How did you respond – with an answer or were you just like me and ignored it.

OTR Links 08/25/2021


Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.