A so-called “blunder” by social media platform Snap Inc. enabled Democrat-run organizations to gain access to a trove of Republican voter data to “hone” their political ads for the upcoming 2022 midterm elections, according to a new report. Formally known as Snapchat Inc., the company rebranded in 2016 to include its other products, such as its “Spectacles” glasses.
As Axios reported on Wednesday, the “slip-up” by the Big Tech company permitted groups such as “the Democratic National Committee, the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, the Planned Parenthood Action Fund and Georgia Democrat Stacey Abrams’ gubernatorial campaign” to “target their ads on the platform using data maintained by the Republican-aligned firm i360.”
“There’s no indication Snap was aware of or facilitated that data sharing, and the company said it’s taking steps to rectify the oversight,” the report claims. “But the blunder underscores the sensitivities surrounding reams of voter data that have become a highly valuable political commodity.”
While Axios notes that the issue “impacted data maintained by both Democratic and Republican data firms,” records reportedly reviewed by the outlet indicate that the data’s “use by political groups was significantly more prolific on the Democratic side.”
“We take full responsibility for this mistake, and as soon as we became aware of it, we notified the two Democratic and Republican vendors who were equally impacted, and took action to correct the issue,” a Snap representative told Axios. “We are also taking steps to ensure this doesn’t happen again.”
While a self-proclaimed “mistake,” Snap’s voter data mismanagement is hardly the first time a Big Tech company’s actions have benefited the Democrat Party in U.S. elections. Look no further than the 2020 presidential contest, wherein both Facebook and Twitter worked overtime to squash The New York Post’s report on the Hunter Biden laptop story in the days leading up to the election.
As The Federalist reported at the time, a Media Research Center survey revealed that the censoring of the bombshell story affected voters’ decisions at the ballot box, with 1 in 6 Biden voters surveyed saying “they would have been less likely to vote for Biden if they had been aware of evidence Biden lied about ‘knowledge of his son Hunter’s overseas business dealings.’”
What’s more troubling, however, is that the cozy relationship between Big Tech companies and the Democrat Party goes back even further than 2020. After successfully running the first real “online” campaign in the 2008 election, former President Barack Obama’s 2012 reelection campaign made sure to enhance its ties with Big Tech firms heading into the fall election, with Facebook being the most notable.
As detailed in her bestselling book “Rigged: How the Media, Big Tech, and the Democrats Seized Our Elections,” Federalist Editor-in-Chief Mollie Hemingway notes how “[t]he Obama campaign opened a Silicon Valley field office to tap into all the tech expertise that was rushing to help his campaign” in the lead-up to the 2012 contest.
“Carol Davidsen, the analytics director for Obama’s campaign, would later admit that the campaign had access to all of Facebook’s data, saying, ‘[Facebook] allowed us to do things they wouldn’t have allowed someone else to do because they were on our side,’” Hemingway wrote. “In 2012, the Obama campaign sucked up all the data on Facebook and was greeted with a chorus of hosannas celebrating tech-savvy electioneering. In 2016, when the Trump campaign did the exact same thing, the media started yelling that the sky was falling.”
Shawn Fleetwood is a Staff Writer for The Federalist and a graduate of the University of Mary Washington. He also serves as a state content writer for Convention of States Action and his work has been featured in numerous outlets, including RealClearPolitics, RealClearHealth, and Conservative Review. Follow him on Twitter @ShawnFleetwood