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Political operatives are targeting propaganda by location

The future of propaganda may in part be location-based. By attending a political rally, users may be targeted for advertisements by the politician they came to see—and by their opponents. Or more perniciously, visiting a clinic could make a person a target for anti-vaccination propaganda.

Location-based targeting is nothing new in the ad industry, and just as advertising techniques provided the inspiration for many of tactics used by Russia to meddle in the 2016 U.S. election, the cutting edge in the ad industry may now inform the way propaganda and disinformation are reaching the individual citizen.

In a recent interview with our research team, a political consultant laid out the future of location-based propaganda: “We’ll work with a company, we’ll give them an address, they’ll draw a perimeter around an area …. We say, ‘I want everyone at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue between December 31 of 2019 and January 1 of 2020, and they will actually pull all the mobile device IDs, unique to your personal cell phone.” He elaborated: “Then we can upload that list into Facebook or into other ad platforms to target them directly. Or use that mobile device id to feed it to one of our data partners […]

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