Welcome To Election 2019: Whoppers, Fakery And Copyright Fails

A week from today and we will be deciding which side wins -- Boris and "Get Brexit Done" or Jeremy Corbyn and "It's Time For Real Change." Perhaps neither will win outright, requiring the support of another party.

At the moment, however, the polls are leaning toward an outright majority for the Conservative Party.

That brings us on neatly to political advertising and the fact that the Conservatives, who pride themselves on traditional values, have not exactly been playing with a straight bat this election.

Regular readers will remember that I pointed out how ridiculous it is that nobody holds claims in ads to account. Although Twitter has turned its back on political advertising, Facebook is happy to hoover up campaign pounds without the impediment of checking any of the facts offered in ads. 

You would like to think that the ASA would step in here, just to make sure everyone knows their claims will be subjected to a truth test. Unfortunately, that is not the case.

Just check out the ASA guidance here in which it confirms that parties can pretty much say whatever they like in political advertising, while those in government -- conveying policy messages -- will be pulled up for telling fibs in any communication.

So, what happens where there is no regulation? Well, you get the Conservative Party thinking it would be a jolly wheeze to label its Twitter feed as a fact-checking service, so it can trash the Labour Manifesto. You then get the same party cyber squatting on to again ridicule the Labour Party. 

Ok, so that's just a jolly jape, and has nothing do with advertising? Well, ads leading to the spoofed site are among eight campaign messages that Google has had to ban. In fact, six of the eight banned ads relate to the Conservatives paying for ads that ridicule the Labour manifesto. 

Which brings us neatly to the BBC successfully forcing YouTube to ban two Conservative Party films that used heavily edited clips of its newscasters which, the corporation feared, could have been seen as supporting Boris' message about getting Brexit "done."

Only, Boris' hand was not forced over it being a snide thing to do -- the issue that caused the ad to be pulled was the party didn't own the copyright to the footage. 

To say that the Conservative Party has been sailing a little close to the wind seems an understatement. We have even had The Telegraph calling the party out recently for appearing to be gleaning personal information from polls on Facebook about political views. 

This would, of course, require a very clear consent mechanism under GDPR explaining what the information was being used for, offering a choice between the information being passed on or not and detailing how any permissions could be later revoked. 

Not surprisingly, this wasn't done and the party took down the polls when The Telegraph pointed out that they looked decidedly illegal. Remember this is The Telegraph we're talking about here, calling out the Conservative Party. This is where we have got to. 

I remember at the start of the election period, The Telegraph was openly asking the question whether the Labour Party working with Experian would raise questions over GDPR. I have to admit, I still there there could be some serious question marks ahead there. 

If Experian is not processing political data, they will probably be ok. However, if they are using sensitive data -- such as political views, religion, sexuality and health -- they will need informed, granular consent to be given for every person for each category. 

Targeting baby boomers in a particular area would be fine, but targeting Lib Dem voters who are union members and so could be talked into voting Labour would be a very different scenario, though.

That is not to say Labour is beyond reproach after its claim, widely sprayed around the internet, that it will say the average family more than GBP6,000 per year has been widely disproven as fanciful manipulation of figures.

Let's not also forget the furore over the Lib Dems being accused of passing off campaign pamphlets as local newspapers.

To date, however, it has been the Conservative Party that has had ads banned, although there were no fact-checking rules in place -- prompting the advertisers' trade body, ISBA, to recently drop me a line suggesting the Coalition for Reform in Political Advertising has its support. 

It is calling for ads to be watermarked so their origin is known and for all political ads to be regulated to ensure politicians cannot lie and get away with it.

If you check the website, the apolitical campaign seems to make sense.

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