Social Media Giant Accidentally Hands GOP Voter Information to Democrats


Prepare to be amazed. Another “mistake,” this time by a social media company, was that it benefited Democrats going into an election. It’s amazing how this keeps happening.

Snap, formerly known as Snapchat, claims it “inadvertently”, exposed data about Republican voters to Democrat companies. These firms used the data to target political ads prior to the mid-terms.

Axios has this story, but they present it exactly how you would expect.

A mistake by Snap, the social media giant, allowed Democratic campaigns and party committees unwittingly to tap into a huge repository of Republican voter information to improve their midterm ads.

Why it matters: Snap has not indicated that it was aware of the data sharing or that it facilitated it. The company stated it is taking steps to correct the oversight. The blunder highlights the sensitive nature of reams voter data, which has become a highly valued political commodity.

The report states that Snap enabled Democrat organizations to access voter data from Republican-allied firm i360. This was created by Charles Koch. This allowed Democrat organizations to fine-tune their campaigns to target voters they deemed persuasible.

Snap responded with this statement.

Snap spoke out to Axios, saying that “Unfortunately, we made an internal error and didn’t follow the usual process.”

What was the exact nature of the internal error? How did this happen? This only affected a few firms so it would indicate that there was something done manually. If it were a simple backend issue, you would expect that it would have affected all accounts or at most a large number of accounts in a particular category.

Snap must provide more details than the statement provides to prove that it is trying to put this down to an oversight. What was the “process” that wasn’t followed? It wasn’t followed. Who wouldn’t do this?

This is a delicate line between protecting freedom of speech online and allowing social media companies to tamper with data. Targeted leakage of information for political purposes is a growing problem within the government. You can see this by looking at the DOJ’s handling of the Trump Mar-a-Lago matter. Social media companies that expose data for political reasons are the next frontier. This “mistake” must be explained in detail and corrected if it was. It is not a good idea to run to Axios to tell a sympathetic story.


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