How Facebook's Racial Segmentation Is Helping Trump Campaign Try To Suppress African American Voting

from the where-are-the-adults dept

Earlier this week, Bloomberg had a fairly revealing article about the internal digital efforts of the Donald Trump campaign, in which Bloomberg reporters embedded for a few days. The whole article is quite interesting, but one of the most stunning parts, frankly, was the Trump campaign staffers directly admitting how they are actively trying to suppress voting by African Americans. It's no secret that a variety of new voter ID laws are designed to suppress voting -- especially among minorities. When North Carolina's voter ID law was struck down by the court, the judge pointed out how the legislators that had backed it had explicitly targeted rules that would suppress votes among African Americans. They had requested "racial data" concerning voter ID and then specifically targeted the types of ID more commonly used by African Americans.
In her remarkable opinion, Judge Motz strongly suggests that North Carolina’s law was indeed racist. The day following the release of Shelby County, she noted, a GOP leader in the state legislature announced his intention to write a law that the feds would have no authority to vet before it went into effect. Like laws in other Republican states, the North Carolina bill imposed a tough new photo-ID requirement. But it did much more: the law eliminated same-day voter registration and pre-registration for high-school students about to turn 18, curtailed early voting by one week and banned out-of-precinct voting.

Each of these new rules disproportionately impacted black voters seeking to exercise the franchise, as legislators in North Carolina were well aware. “[P]rior to enactment” of the law, the Fourth Circuit explained, “the legislature requested and received racial data as to usage of the practices changed by the proposed law.” Released from the obligation to clear their law with the Justice department and “with race data in hand, the legislature amended the bill to exclude many of the alternative photo IDs used by African Americans.” Photo IDs used more often by black voters, including public assistance IDs, were removed from the list of acceptable identification, while IDs issued by the Department of Motor Vehicles—which blacks are less likely to have—were retained. Cutting the first week of early voting came in reaction to data showing that the first seven days were used by large numbers of black voters, nixing one Sunday on which churches would bus “souls-to-the-polls”. Banning same-day registration, too, had an outsize effect on blacks, as did the prohibition on out-of-precinct voting: both changes made voting harder for people who had recently moved, and blacks are more itinerant than whites.
That, alone, was pretty stunning, but they still tried to pretend in public that the law wasn't about suppressing the vote. However, when put with a Bloomberg reporter, the Trump campaign flat out brags about its efforts to suppress the vote among African Americans. And they're using extreme targeting on Facebook to do so:
Instead of expanding the electorate, Bannon and his team are trying to shrink it. “We have three major voter suppression operations under way,” says a senior official. They’re aimed at three groups Clinton needs to win overwhelmingly: idealistic white liberals, young women, and African Americans. Trump’s invocation at the debate of Clinton’s WikiLeaks e-mails and support for the Trans-Pacific Partnership was designed to turn off Sanders supporters. The parade of women who say they were sexually assaulted by Bill Clinton and harassed or threatened by Hillary is meant to undermine her appeal to young women. And her 1996 suggestion that some African American males are “super predators” is the basis of a below-the-radar effort to discourage infrequent black voters from showing up at the polls—particularly in Florida.

On Oct. 24, Trump’s team began placing spots on select African American radio stations. In San Antonio, a young staffer showed off a South Park-style animation he’d created of Clinton delivering the “super predator” line (using audio from her original 1996 sound bite), as cartoon text popped up around her: “Hillary Thinks African Americans are Super Predators.” The animation will be delivered to certain African American voters through Facebook “dark posts”—nonpublic posts whose viewership the campaign controls so that, as Parscale puts it, “only the people we want to see it, see it.” The aim is to depress Clinton’s vote total. “We know because we’ve modeled this,” says the official. “It will dramatically affect her ability to turn these people out.”
Now that's... interesting (and ridiculous, but we'll leave that aside for the moment). Of course, every election cycle involves a ton of targeted "negative advertising" that is designed to suppress overall interest in a candidate. But the two things newsworthy here are (1) the fact that the Trump campaign is directly admitting to the intention behind that strategy here, rather than hiding it and (2) the ability to use Facebook to target these kinds of campaigns to a level previously not available.

Facebook, somewhat famously, allows extraordinarily targeted advertising. We've played around with it ourselves, and it's really quite incredible how granular you can go in trying to target your ads. Basically any trait or interest or demographic group that you can think of, you can put into an ad target group. At times, as you dig through the options, it almost feels like it's just Facebook showing off just how much data and insight it has into its users. It's a data nerd's dream, where you can slice and dice billions of people by basically anything.

Of course, it's somewhat ironic that the Trump campaign is using Facebook to suppress the vote, at the same time that Facebook is patting itself on the back for helping to get out the vote with its voter registration campaign, and, in the past has directly experimented with changing newsfeeds to encourage more voter turnout. Platforms like Facebook can be used for both good and evil.

Either way, sometimes the data nerds (and the advertising folks) have to be reminded of the law. Pro Publica has a pretty damning report out today about the fact that Facebook's slicing and dicing of targeted advertising also means that you can exclude people by race. They don't discuss the recent revelations about the Trump campaign's targeting, but it's pretty clear that this is how they're doing that suppression campaign described above. But it also presents potentially serious legal problem in areas where it is illegal to discriminate based on race, such as hiring or housing. And yet, Facebook's current set up allows users to do just that:
Propublica actually went ahead and bought a housing ad that discriminated based on race.

The Propbulica article quotes a civil rights lawyer who is reasonably horrified by this. But there are some big legal questions. From the data geek side of things, you can easily see how Facebook reached this point, continually slicing up data in more and more ways, without necessarily considering the consequences. But does that make Facebook legally liable for, say, violating the Fair Housing Act? That's... a much tougher question.

Facebook argues (1) that it's policies say that advertisers cannot discriminate in illegal ways, and anyone caught doing so will face punishment. (2) Facebook is likely protected by Section 230 of the CDA on this. I say "likely" instead of "definitely" because one of the few cases that cut through the CDA 230 protections is the famous Roommates.com case, which was explicitly about racial discrimination on housing based on Roommates.com ads that violated the Fair Housing Act. However, Facebook has a much stronger argument than Roommates in that case, because part of the issue is that Roommates directly asked users for a racial preference, making it content they had designed, rather than content that the user created. Facebook can (reasonably) argue that it was just offering up millions of ways to slice and dice the data, rather than explicitly calling out racial preference. (3) Facebook says the rules are not based on "race" but "racial affinity." This is a dumb argument and Facebook should not say it ever again, and possibly apologize for even bringing up such a lame argument in the first place.

Separately, Facebook argues -- correctly -- that there are lots of cases where advertisers have perfectly legitimate reasons for targeting based on race.
Satterfield said it’s important for advertisers to have the ability to both include and exclude groups as they test how their marketing performs. For instance, he said, an advertiser “might run one campaign in English that excludes the Hispanic affinity group to see how well the campaign performs against running that ad campaign in Spanish. This is a common practice in the industry.”
That said, there's simply no reason that Facebook couldn't put in a system to recognize ads that are in a protected category in which discrimination may be an issue, and either block such usage or at least put a strong warning for the user (and alert the Facebook team to review the ad more carefully -- since all ads are reviewed before being put live). It's not clear that there's a legal mandate to do so, but it just seems like a good practice in general. I've seen lots of people commenting on this story in which they are rightfully horrified about the potential abuse of such a tool, and they're quick to blame Facebook's "negligence." It does seem more like carelessness than negligence, in that you can see how the company got here, as it contined to alow greater and greater targeting attributes, which advertisers really appreciate.

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  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 28 Oct 2016 @ 12:05pm

    For instance, he said, an advertiser “might run one campaign in English that excludes the Hispanic affinity group to see how well the campaign performs against running that ad campaign in Spanish. This is a common practice in the industry.”

    Yes, it is called A|B testing. The implication with A|B testing that there is more than just A, though.

    So, if Facebook said "yes, you can have housing ads based on ethnic affinity... but your set of ads needs to cover all affinities", that would be a valid example of A|B testing that should not run afoul of fair housing laws.

    Instead, Facebook is saying "yes, you can have housing ads based on ethnic affinity, and just not advertise to affinities that, y'know, you want to discriminate against". This is not A|B testing.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    John Cressman, 28 Oct 2016 @ 12:22pm

    Another Techdirt Leftist Rant...

    Really Mike?!

    Another leftist rant... please stay on topic... and spare up your incorrect provocative titles to get a few more clicks.

    First, voter id laws have nothing to do with the Trump campaign, so starting with that shows you already have a left wing agenda. The FACT that there are dead people who have voted dozens of times since they have passed away shows we need voter id.

    Targeting specific groups of customers or clients or NOT targeting them with ADVERTISING is not Suppressing votes. To suggest such is either a HUGE lack of knowledge on your part or just a

    It's also not illegal. You can advertise to any demographic you want. In fact, it's been going on for DECADES... advertisers advertise things that women want on daytime sitcoms and advertise things men want during sports shows. Nothing to see... move along.

    The fact that the Trump campaign has an idea of what demographic is going to vote for them and is targeting that demographic is smart advertising, not - in anyway - voter suppression.

    From Wikipedia: "Voter suppression is alleged to be a strategy to influence the outcome of an election by discouraging or preventing people from exercising the right to vote. "

    He is not influencing people NOT to vote, he's influencing a particular group TO vote.

    So please... spare us your false conspiracy theories and stick to what you're good at... intellectual "property" issues..

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      Matt (profile), 28 Oct 2016 @ 12:55pm

      Re: Another Techdirt Leftist Rant...

      The suppression term came directly from a a senior Trump official. You can debate if this is truly suppression but it is the campaign using the term.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 28 Oct 2016 @ 1:03pm

        Re: Re: Another Techdirt Leftist Rant...

        I never take anything said without a name attached to it seriously.

        Only losers fall for that shit true or not! I don't care of they are R or D or a fucking squeegee, if you can't put a name to who said what then you can say "A Senior Democrat/Republican opened with a Satanic Ritual and a Flag Burning session."

        You can say anything when you don't have to attach a name to it.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 28 Oct 2016 @ 2:26pm

          Re: Re: Re: Another Techdirt Leftist Rant...

          "never take anything said without a name attached to it seriously" - Anonymous Coward

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Dee, 19 Nov 2016 @ 11:21am

        Re: Re: Another Techdirt Leftist Rant...

        Knowingly spitting out lies is a form of suppression the Nazis used.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      Roger Strong (profile), 28 Oct 2016 @ 1:08pm

      Canuck Amuck

      The fact that the Trump campaign has an idea of what demographic is going to vote for them and is targeting that demographic is smart advertising, not - in anyway - voter suppression.

      Another example:

      Over a million people in Canada are eligible to vote in US elections - dual citizens, Americans living in Canada, etc. This outnumbers the eligible voters in some US states. Likely a similar number of Canadian/US dual citizens live in the US.

      Here's the last four U.S. ambassadors to Canada jointly urging a million Canadian/US dual citizens to vote:

      http://www.theglobeandmail.com/opinion/letters/july-4-a-million-people-in-canada-can-vote-in-t he-us-election-plus-other-letters-to-the-editor/article30729582/

      US consulates have been doing the same:

      http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/new-brunswick/canada-america-election-1.3773837

      It's safe to say that these puck-chasers tend to vote to the left. But what the ambassadors and consulates are doing isn't fraud. Any voter fraud would be insignificant by comparison.

      I'm sure that you and your fellow Trump supporters wouldn't have it any other way!

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 28 Oct 2016 @ 2:07pm

      Re: Another Techdirt Leftist Rant...

      When you're on the far right, everything else looks leftist.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Thad, 28 Oct 2016 @ 2:45pm

      Re: Another Techdirt Leftist Rant...

      First, voter id laws have nothing to do with the Trump campaign

      Of course they do. He's been using the exact same (completely false) rhetoric about rampant voter fraud that his party has been using to pass voter ID laws.

      He is not influencing people NOT to vote, he's influencing a particular group TO vote.

      You don't seem to have read the Bloomberg article linked in the first sentence. Here's an excerpt:

      Instead of expanding the electorate, Bannon and his team are trying to shrink it. “We have three major voter suppression operations under way,” says a senior official. They’re aimed at three groups Clinton needs to win overwhelmingly: idealistic white liberals, young women, and African Americans.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 31 Oct 2016 @ 4:11pm

      Re: Another Techdirt Leftist Rant...

      Why is having a ID even suppressing a vote? It's not hard to get a ID, it's even pretty cheap or even FREE and still people complain.

      Tell me, how do you get around in this world with no ID these days??? So all these so called poor people that this effects, how do they get all these Government programs with no ID? What, you don't need a ID for them?

      Maybe it's really about FRAUD. Voter FRAUD for the Democrats!!! The same group going around Busing groups of Democrats from one location to another to vote multi-times!!! You sure don't see Republicans doing that crap.

      Democrats want anyone and everyone to vote for them, including Illegals. Not a U.S. Citizen, Who cares. You're generally going to vote Democrat.

      It has ZERO to do with suppressing the vote and everything to do with creating more fraud.

      How about this, instead of ID, how about do what they do in some other countries, stick your finger in INK. Ink that's not going to just wash off, that will stay on you for a few days. That way you can stop some of this fraud going on. Oh wait, Democrats have a excuse for not wanting that also!!!

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • icon
        nasch (profile), 1 Nov 2016 @ 7:57am

        Re: Re: Another Techdirt Leftist Rant...

        So all these so called poor people that this effects

        "So called poor people". I mean they're not really poor right? They have clothes and refrigerators and stuff so they can't actually be poor.

        Classy.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Wendy Cockcroft, 2 Nov 2016 @ 6:25am

      Re: Another Techdirt Leftist Rant...

      Leftist? Use your words, John! "Leftist" does not mean "people who disagree with me."

      If the Trump campaign admit to malfeasance, they've admitted it. Accept it and move on, don't shoot the messenger. And for the record Mike isn't taking sides because he has problems with both candidates.

      Shame on you for your partisan hackery.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Tummy, 16 Nov 2016 @ 8:28pm

      Re: Another Techdirt Leftist Rant...

      Did they also test the types of responses that people should make to factual explanations? Ooh, it's too realistic, call it a rant and then spout unsupported opinions. You're the fool ranting.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 28 Oct 2016 @ 12:32pm

    I don't understand the addiction of so many reporters to embellish something that's *already horrible* and turn it into something it's not.

    That habit has helped Trump time and time again because talking heads and bloggers and mainstream news aren't content with the truth.

    It's maddening.


    Bloomberg should be ashamed for calling targeted Facebook ads aimed to demoralize opposition voters as being "voter suppression". Demoralizing voters is bad enough without embellishing it and calling it suppression.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 28 Oct 2016 @ 12:36pm

    The statement regarding voter suppression came from the original article and is attributed to a campaign official. You can tell this by reading, and noticing the statement highlighted in bold in the third quoted paragraph.

    If you feel that Trump campaign officials should not be conducting voter suppression actions, take it up with the Trump campaign. Or, if you feel that the Trump campaign official was mis-quoted, take it up with the authors of the original article that TechDirt quoted.

    Blaming TechDirt for statements attributed to a campaign official by another publication will not help people form positive opinions regarding the reading skills of people who use the term "leftist".

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      freedomfan (profile), 28 Oct 2016 @ 2:38pm

      but... regardless of who used the term... still not actual voter suppression

      If there is story related to the Trump campaign and voter suppression here, it's that apparently some people in his campaign don't even know enough about voter suppression to know that they aren't actually engaging in it.

      And, the other noteworthy bit is that Bloomberg will happily exploit that ignorance to write a story that treats what is clearly more accurately "targeted negative advertising" (which - for better or worse - is not even vaguely controversial in campaigns) as if it were "voter suppression".

      So, the Trump staffers are ignorant //yawn// and Bloomberg is deceptive //yawn//.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Unanimous Cow Herd, 28 Oct 2016 @ 10:12pm

      Re:

      I hate to quote this but I feel it's oblig.

      “If you tell a lie big enough and keep repeating it, people will eventually come to believe it. The lie can be maintained only for such time as the State can shield the people from the political, economic and/or military consequences of the lie. It thus becomes vitally important for the State to use all of its powers to repress dissent, for the truth is the mortal enemy of the lie, and thus by extension, the truth is the greatest enemy of the State.” -JG

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Pete, 28 Oct 2016 @ 12:49pm

    Hillary is the Racist One Here

    Hillary Clinton made a ridiculous comment describing one racial group as "Super Predators".

    This post argues that, because Hillary chose to insult a racial minority, people from that racial minority are not entitled to be reminded of the incident by targeted facebook ads.

    She can target a group with a racist insult - and that very racism protects her because her opponent cannot selectively communicate to the victim group with helpful and factual information.

    That's racist and ludicrous. People from minorities are fully entitled to receive information about political issues, so they can cast an informed vote.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 28 Oct 2016 @ 12:51pm

    "Platforms like Facebook can be used for both good and evil."

    Platforms like Techdirt can be used for both good and evil.
    The Sun rises in the east but sets in the west.
    Dirt is usually on the ground but washed off when it gets on your pants unless you're pigpen.

    Today I red an article showing bias bitching about perceived bias somewhere else. Not that bitching about bias is a bad thing, but don't do it with your own bias up in neon. But hey who am I to complain, we all do it right?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 28 Oct 2016 @ 12:52pm

    Micro Targeting

    It is called micro targeting and it has been used very affectively in the last presidential election. You may have missed the fact that millions of Christian voters stayed home rather than voting for a Mormon. In that campaign there were ads targeted to Christian voters with the intent of having them stay home and it worked.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    mcinsand, 28 Oct 2016 @ 12:56pm

    voter ID laws

    Although I feel insulted when no-one checks my ID before I vote, any requirement based on a desire to suppress voters is wrong from the get-go. In the first place, if a photo ID was so tough to obtain, the beer and tobacco companies would be bankrupt. I do believe that the intent was to discourage a target demographic to not vote, but it was destined for failure. Best case was that it would make no difference. The worst case is what is now happening to the political right; a group is realizing that they are being targeted, and we now have more of the political left energized and even more ready to vote.

    While I do feel insulted that no-one cares enough about my vote to make sure that I am me, any change in our laws designed to discourage anyone should be a nonstarter. Sadly, as we have seen with other behaviors such as gerrymandering, the parties only care about what is best for themselves. (The Democrats maintained a stranglehold in NC for decades with convoluted districts. Then, with the rise of the southern political right, the Republicans are now writing the maps to their benefit. Likewise, Republicans cried 'foul!' in the old days, just as the Democrats do now.)

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 28 Oct 2016 @ 1:09pm

      Re: voter ID laws

      both sides like to play their games.

      I am just wondering when "The People" will wake up and stop letting themselves be taken for fools.

      Where I a minority, which I am not, I would be telling those fucks off for assuming that I cannot figure out how to manage my voter registration just because I am black, brown, or whatever.

      Minorities are constantly insulted by the very people they vote for, but if they want it that way... then they need to understand that you cannot get any respect for your culture at the same time! I have no problems with them making a fool of themselves... but since they vote, that is a lot of stupid to overcome!

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 28 Oct 2016 @ 2:17pm

      Re: voter ID laws

      I've registered 1,195 people during 2008, 2012, and 2016.

      (Yes. I counted. It's part of best practices in being a registrar.)

      I am convinced that every single one of those is legitimate. Of course I am: I have to sign off on them, and if I'm wrong, I can face prosecution. So I'm careful. REALLY careful.

      But a lot of those people would NOT have been registered in another state because they're (a) poor (b) elderly (c) rural (d) not native English speakers or (e) some combination of those factors. These are exactly the people who have been targeted by voter ID laws, because they're vulnerable. These are also the people least likely to be engaged in any kind of voter fraud, because even if they wanted to, they lack the means.

      (Also note the Loyola comprehensive voter fraud study that identified about three dozen cases out of a billion votes cast. Voter fraud is a bogeyman, not an actual real world problem.)

      I'm sure it's easy for YOU. It's not easy for THEM. Get out here in the field with me and do the heavy lifting for a while -- you'll see that not everyone is as wealthy and privileged and fortunate as you are.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Social! Justice! Warrior!, 28 Oct 2016 @ 2:43pm

        Re: Re: voter ID laws

        > But a lot of those people would NOT have been registered in another state because they're (a) poor (b) elderly (c) rural (d) not native English speakers or (e) some combination of those factors.

        It's illegal for any of those people to register to vote in a lot of states. That needs to change!

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 29 Oct 2016 @ 12:14pm

        Re: Re: voter ID laws

        "Voter fraud is a bogeyman, not an actual real world problem"

        When your policies are so toxic you don't wish the voters to know of them then the best thing to do is scare the electorate with a very loud 'in your face' BOOOO.

        The bogeyman is self created & self disappearing after being elected to office, job done, you've saved the voters from the bogeyman. Works every time on under-educated, ignorant people missing their bullshit detector, so effective it works all across the world in all languages.

        If the big man told me something on TV it must be true, why would he lie to trustworthy me as I get most of my knowledge from the TV screen in my own home, it's right there in my own home for goodness sake. He's not some shady snake oil salesman outside on my doorstep.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 31 Oct 2016 @ 4:24pm

        Re: Re: voter ID laws

        Wait, these Poor, Elderly, Rual, Non-English(yet they're voting, sounds like a Illegal that shouldn't be voting in the first place, if your a American citizen and can vote, you should know English!!!)

        These are all people, almost likey to be on some type of Government Program. A program in which you need a ID!!!!

        How can anyone these days do anything without a ID? ID's are CHEAP to FREE and anyone can get one. Its not hard to get a State ID. You have tons of time to get a ID. It's not like Voting is happening for the First time and right out of the blue.

        It has nothing to do with suppressing the Vote. You all would be against people putting their finger in Ink that will last a few days, to keep people from voting at a number of places as they get bused around. You would be saying the same CRAP on that also.

        It's all about Voter fraud. The Democrats want a lot of it. It's out of control these days, some gets stopped, but not most of it. It's mostly Democrats doing it. Don't see Republican's busing around groups of people to vote.

        I just find the excuse laughable!!! Food Stamps, Medicade, Social Security, and on and on,Obama Phone, None of that you need any ID?? HAHAHAHAHAHA None of your list of people are on anything Government related? That's the Democrat platform. More free Government stuff!!! It's free for some, other are paying for you and themselves.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Thad, 28 Oct 2016 @ 3:17pm

      Re: voter ID laws

      In the first place, if a photo ID was so tough to obtain, the beer and tobacco companies would be bankrupt.

      That's completely fallacious reasoning.

      First of all: people can and do buy beer and tobacco without being carded. I'm over 30; I rarely get carded anymore. Someone who is elderly is far less likely to have their ID checked when they purchase alcohol or tobacco.

      Second: the government does not have any obligation to facilitate the purchase of alcohol and tobacco by individuals who are eligible to purchase them. The government does have an obligation to facilitate the ability to vote by individuals who are eligible to vote.

      There is a Voting Rights Act. There is no Beer-Buying Rights Act.

      If someone who is legally allowed to purchase alcohol or tobacco is prevented from doing so, that is an annoyance. If someone who is legally allowed to vote is prevented from doing so, that is an infringement of civil rights, and undermines the basic function of democracy.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 31 Oct 2016 @ 3:33am

        Re: Re: voter ID laws

        ya.. so.. you can't buy a gun without an id and a background check and the government does have an obligation to not restricting that right.....

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 31 Oct 2016 @ 4:42pm

        Re: Re: voter ID laws

        So what about Social Security, Food Stamps, Medicaid? Obama phone, and the list goes on and on for Government programs. Don't you need a ID to get any of that? If Not, can't I just sign up as a number of differnt people get 5 times the stuff or more? If you don't need a ID!!! Oh wait, YOU DO!!!!!

        So does this ID, disappear when it's time to vote. Or is it really a pretty weak excuse so that you Democrats can do a whole lot of Voter fraud. This is why you all are busing large groups of people around from place to place!!!

        How you can can live these days with No ID? So can't drive? No Credit Cards? Don't own a House. No banking? No Government anything? Are you Grizzly Adams? Do you live completely off the grid? You wouldn't even care about voting at that point.

        No ID, suppressing the vote is beyond ridiculous. Voting has been going on since this country was founded. it's not some surprise. You have years of time to get a ID.

        No one in their right mind would fall for this weak excuse of Voter suppression by not having a ID. By the way, how does this work out to only be Democrats? Are you people saying Democrats are just really DUMB??? It would explain a lot. All these years can't figure out how to get a ID? No wonder the person is POOR! Really, not taking advantage of any Government program being that poor idiot? WOW.

        So about getting out the VOTE (You're all about Voting FRAUD) but can't help these same Black,Poor, Clueless people from getting a ID???? Yet, the Asian, White, Filipino's and other people have no program getting a ID. I find this fascinating.

        You Democrats really make it out that BLACK people are just IDIOTS??? I think that's a huge Insult and yet you all keep throwing that out there. That Black people are Incapable of getting a ID. Like WOW!!!! Everyone else can,. but BLACK PEOPLE!!! Really? That Black People keep getting put down by Democrats. They're worse off then ever going Democrat for all these years and yet keep voting that way?!?!

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 28 Oct 2016 @ 12:58pm

    ProPublica

    The ProPublica argument re: FHA seems weak. They claim illegality, but when quoting the law they say it's illegal for an ad to "[indicate] any preference, limitation, or discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex, handicap, familial status, or national origin." Facebook didn't publish any such ad, nor did the people who bought the ad. Sure, it's targeted to certain groups based on those grounds, but the ad doesn't indicate any preference which is all the quoted text actually bans. Would it be illegal to put an ad in a magazine read primarily by certain groups?

    Facebook is engaging in some serious doublespeak here: "Satterfield said it’s important for advertisers to have the ability to both include and exclude groups as they test how their marketing performs." In the previous paragraph he said "Our policies prohibit using our targeting options to discriminate", but including/excluding groups is an exact dictionary definition of discrimination.

    I don't understand the idea that saying property is near churches or a country club is discriminatory. Unless it's a KKK "country club"/"church" or something. Can anyone explain?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    crade (profile), 28 Oct 2016 @ 1:08pm

    I think "suppress" is a bit misleading here. To suppress voting is to forcibly prevent people from voting not to convince them to change their minds about their vote.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 28 Oct 2016 @ 5:38pm

      Re:

      I think "misleading" here is a bit overly neutral. To use mislead is to imply a possible lack of intent to deceive, whereas this story and its Breitbartian headline are quite clearly intended to portray the Trump campaign's behavior as worse than what is actually going on. A better word might be "dishonest".

      I'm disappointed in you, Mike. It's not like it's hard to point out Trump's abundant flaws without being dishonest.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • icon
        crade (profile), 28 Oct 2016 @ 7:23pm

        Re: Re:

        I was giving the benefit of the doubt :)

        No one ever points out the good in Trump... Just think of all the good he could do for the struggling bomb shelter business.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Josh (profile), 28 Oct 2016 @ 1:29pm

    Facebook getting out of their cubes

    I like how facebook is going out to polling places forcing people not to vote.

    Thanks techdirt.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 28 Oct 2016 @ 2:09pm

    Can't wait for all the principled people take a stand and boycott Facebook.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    wiserabbit, 28 Oct 2016 @ 2:15pm

    Correct Headline

    News Flash: Trump campaign doesn't know what the term "voter suppression" means

    There ya go...

    um, shocking? not

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    freedomfan (profile), 28 Oct 2016 @ 3:01pm

    What some idiot in the Trump campaign calls it doesn't define what it is

    This was a pretty poor article. The interesting and newsworthy part (that a state wrote a voter ID law specifically to target a racial group) is lost because the headline (about Trump and voter suppression) is so clearly misleading.

    Mr. Masnick can do better than this. If he wants to tar the Trump campaign with allegations of voter suppression, then find some actual evidence of voter suppression and report it.

    That the Trump campaign is doing targeted negative advertising like lots of campaigns do is hardly even a story. Basically, Trump is telling people likely to favor Mrs. Clinton things that will make them rethink their support of her. That isn't voter suppression. Masnick doesn't think it's voter suppression. The Bloomberg reporters don't think it's voter suppression. The only one ignorant enough to think it's voter suppression is some clod in the Trump campaign who doesn't understand the term.

    To those who are saying, "But Trump's own guy called it 'voter suppression!'" Grow up. If one of Trump's lackeys had called Trump's comments about regulating the Internet to stop terror "a practical and well-thought-out policy statement" we would all laugh and point out what a boob he was. Let's not pretend something equally ignorant is actually true just because someone from his campaign said it.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 28 Oct 2016 @ 7:42pm

      Re: What some idiot in the Trump campaign calls it doesn't define what it is

      So basically we should disregard what one of Trumps people said because they are stupid? And maybe next you could explain what Trump actually mean was,t that women just have really convenient handles that you can grab then with.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 28 Oct 2016 @ 9:07pm

        Re: Re: What some idiot in the Trump campaign calls it doesn't define what it is

        > So basically we should disregard what one of Trumps people said because they are stupid? And maybe next you could explain what Trump actually mean was,t that women just have really convenient handles that you can grab then with.

        Well, if you believe that whatever someone in the Trump campaign says defines the truth, then I guess you believe the handles thing too.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • icon
        freedomfan (profile), 29 Oct 2016 @ 2:43am

        Re: Re: What some idiot in the Trump campaign calls it doesn't define what it is

        When someone who clearly doesn't understand what X is says, "We are doing X", is the proper response to write a headline that screams "OMG! These guys admit to doing X!" Or, is the proper story to write the story that "These guys don't know what X really means"? The latter story isn't nearly as attention-grabbing, but it at least reflects an accurate characterization of what's going on.

        And, no, neither I nor anyone else (that I have read here) has said we should disregard what one of Trump's staffers said. The problem isn't reporting what he said, it's reporting it as if his having said it makes it true, even though it clearly isn't.

        Hypothetically, imagine that one of Hillary's staffers had said that the Clinton campaign engages in tax fraud because it doesn't report its Target Red Card savings as income. The only honest story there is that the staffer doesn't know what tax fraud is. If the story were reported as "Hillary's own people admit she engages in tax fraud", that would be very much like what's going on here. And, it would idiocy because there isn't any evidence of tax fraud, just evidence that something that is neither illegal nor controversial is going on. No one is saying we disregard the staffer's comment, but pretending that it's evidence of tax fraud is BS.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Lawrence D’Oliveiro, 28 Oct 2016 @ 3:06pm

    Why Do You Even Need Voter ID?

    This whole “voter ID” thing smells like a scheme dreamed up to discourage voters, no more, no less. Here in New Zealand, we get sent a simple card in the mail, that we can take along to the electoral station of our choice on voting day. It has no photo on it, and it is not even essential; we can vote without it--it just helps to speed up the process.

    If there is any kind of fraud, that can be easily picked up during the counting stage. The only reason for wanting to put in place measures to prevent “fraudulent” voting up front seems to be to prevent voting full stop.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 28 Oct 2016 @ 5:58pm

      Re: Why Do You Even Need Voter ID?

      That's exactly what it is: a scheme designed to discourage voting and, if possible, to prevent it.

      One of the things that often gets overlooked is the difference between voter registration fraud and voter fraud. If you manage to register yourself to vote as Kaptain Kangaroo, that's voter registration fraud. (Good luck with that, by the way. I'm not going to sign off on your registration and neither is anyone else.) If you show up on election day and try to vote as Kaptain Kangaroo, that's voter fraud. (Good luck with that, too.)

      Voter registration fraud is difficult because it's extremely tedious, and because all registrations are reviewed by the local board of elections. Voter fraud is difficult because it's even more tedious and because you have to do it in places that matter.

      To explain that last point: the campaigns aren't the only ones closely watching polls and returns. So are the election boards, and they're looking for anomalies. If the precinct that's gone 70-30 R-D for 9 election cycles flips to 52-48 D-R this time, they're going to want to know why. They're going to audit. They're going to recount. They're going to spot-check registrations. They're going to put it under a microscope. So even if you somehow managed to pull enough voter fraud to make that happen -- a conspiracy involving hundreds of untrained unpracticed co-conspirators -- it probably won't withstand scrutiny. And then someone will talk and it will all fall down anyway.

      So you can't do it there. You have to do it someplace that's 51-49 and flip it 49-51. Not many places like that. And then you need to have a light touch. And then you...

      And so on. It is really, really, REALLY hard to affect an election this way because it requires a lot of coordination between a lot of people while simultaneously minimizing its footprint and keeping it secret. The Rudy Giuliani fantasy of fleets of buses bringing in imposters to vote under the names of dead people in Philadelphia is totally disconnected from reality. It's absurd. Not only is not going to happen, it's NEVER happened. Nor has anything close to it. (No, not even in Chicago.)

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 28 Oct 2016 @ 9:00pm

      Re: Why Do You Even Need Voter ID?

      So you can vote as many times as you like in New Zealand?

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 29 Oct 2016 @ 12:23pm

        Re: Re: Why Do You Even Need Voter ID?

        If it's like my country, yes, as long as you use other people's name & address instead of multiple times of your own ID as it gets checked off the voters roll in the polling station you attend & vote, then the rolls are cross-checked later on after the election day.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 31 Oct 2016 @ 3:37am

      Re: Why Do You Even Need Voter ID?

      new Zealand doesn't have a border with tens of millions of illegal immigrants of which a significant portion are receiving wellfare services. when I see campaign signs in spanish it really says something to me.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 31 Oct 2016 @ 4:55pm

        Re: Re: Why Do You Even Need Voter ID?

        Can't speak English, Can't Vote, you're a Illegal, why are you being campaigned? Oh for Illegal voting!!! Where you get bused form one place to another!!!

        Unless you're Grizzly Adam's, living in the mountains in a log cabin, completely off the grid and No Government anything, You have a ID!!!! There is no way you don't have a ID. You can't live your life with NO ID. You really can't work without a SSN. The Government want's their money!!!

        My guess is ID's disappear when it's time to vote. Why is it always the BLACK PEOPLE that for whatever reason can't get a ID??? If anything, that's just insulting. A Poor person with no Government anything? Living in a cardboard box?

        I want to see a real Life person these days that has NO ID!!! That person cares about voting!!!

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 31 Oct 2016 @ 4:56pm

        Re: Re: Why Do You Even Need Voter ID?

        "when I see campaign signs in spanish it really says something to me"

        Me too, it says that other people apart from white British backgrounds are United States Of America citizens too & golly gosh, they can vote as well. Oh, the humanity! I blame the Constitution. /S

        Just be thankful that at least they are practicing Christians, otherwise your blood would have vaporized years ago :)

        The USA is going to hell in a handbasket, what with rights for indigenous people, colored people, non-men people, different sexualities & many others pushing English speaking white men to becoming a mere minority in the land God granted to them through the power of gunpowder. /S

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Padpaw (profile), 28 Oct 2016 @ 4:04pm

    Nothing good ever came of trying to promote 1 race over another or segregating 1 culture from the rest.

    Some of the biggest and best breakthroughs in the last century have been from minorities, Usually after they were discriminated against and move to a friendlier country.

    Personally I don't like certain groups of people but that doesn't mean they should be denied the same rights as me solely because they look different than I do.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 28 Oct 2016 @ 7:24pm

    Bloomberg reporters

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Unanimous Cow Herd, 28 Oct 2016 @ 10:07pm

    WTF?

    Where are we going and why am I in this hand-basket?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 29 Oct 2016 @ 6:13am

    Dirtiest election ever

    My god, there's so much mud slinging going on. In light of all the dirt shuffled around, we might end up our first 3rd party president in decades.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 29 Oct 2016 @ 7:33am

    How is online racial profiling different from police racial profiling?

    "Microtargeting" by police has been going on for decades, but hasn't been noticed by the elites because they haven't been stopped for tail-light violations.

    Drive a Mercedes with a broken tail-light and nothing happens; drive a Honda with a broken tail-light and you'll get a ticket (or worse).

    Similarly, online micro-targeting is so successful that the elites won't notice because they aren't part of the targeted groups.

    As more and more of our lives move online, our perceived realities will diverge to the point that we won't be able to communicate anymore, because we will no longer have any shared culture.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 29 Oct 2016 @ 8:45am

    And just about on cue...

    ...we have our first reported case of voter fraud in this election cycle. It happened in Iowa, and the woman involved is...wait for it...a Trump supporter.

    Not that it really matters, because the point here is -- just like I said in comments yesterday -- it's really hard to get away with voter fraud. (It will now be even harder in Iowa because now they're watching even more closely.)

    It's much easier to get away with voter suppression -- moving polling places, restricting hours, shutting them down while people are in line, disqualifying ballots because of trivia like the weight of the paper (yes, that happened), refusing to let people vote, intimidating voters with a show of force, giving people incorrect location/data/time information, etc. We've already seen some of that; we'll see a lot more in the next ten days.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 29 Oct 2016 @ 12:27pm

      Re: And just about on cue...

      "Remember to get out and vote on the 28th of November."
      Your new CIC

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 31 Oct 2016 @ 4:58pm

      Re: And just about on cue...

      If it was a Democrat, it would have been a free pass and nothing said about it. You have to find that 1 Republican and post it all over while ignoring all the Democrats.

      ID checking would stop it for everyone.yet you Democrats are against it. Anyone that's old enough to vote has a ID. You can't do anything without a ID. Yet somehow it's a problem with Voting. I find that laughable.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 29 Oct 2016 @ 6:06pm

    Re:

    I didn't realize that a driver's license was racist!

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 29 Oct 2016 @ 6:29pm

      Re: Re:

      > I didn't realize that a driver's license was racist!

      Anything is racist when it suits you purpose to call it that.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      Roger Strong (profile), 29 Oct 2016 @ 8:44pm

      Re: Re:

      No-one claims that it is. The use of driver's licencing for voter suppression is a different matter.

      For example Alabama passing a law requiring IDs from driver’s license offices.... and then shutting down the driver’s license offices in several heavily black counties.

      Federal judges fully recognized this when they overturned North Carolina’s new voter ID law, declaring that the restrictions “target African Americans with almost surgical precision.” The 4th Circuit Court of Appeals found that the law was adopted with “discriminatory intent” despite lawmakers’ claims that the ID provision and other changes were designed to prevent voter fraud.

      Other states have had similar laws overturned for similar reasons.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 30 Oct 2016 @ 4:56am

        Re: Re: Re:

        Precisely correct. Of course their decision was made easier by the on-the-record statements of state officials noting that they had deliberately targeted those areas.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 30 Oct 2016 @ 9:28am

        Re: Re: Re:

        > For example Alabama passing a law requiring IDs from driver’s license offices.... and then shutting down the driver’s license offices in several heavily black counties.

        It seem to me then that the racist act was the shutting down of those offices.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 31 Oct 2016 @ 5:09pm

          Re: Re: Re: Re:

          Exactly, it was racist to shut down the offices!!!

          Even places giving out FREE ID's, that's a problem. Tell me though, We've been voting in this country since it's founding, over 200 years ago. You know when you'll be voting every time it happens. It's NOT a SURPRISE. You're telling me after all those years, you couldn't pick up a ID? For whatever reason, you waited for the last second before voting? I really find that funny.

          A ID, you need to pretty much do anything in this country. A ID you need to get all the many Government programs. Yet some how you have no ID when it comes to voting? How can this be?

          You don't need a Drivers License, just a state ID card. Easy enough for anyone to get. You have months to YEARS to get one before voting time comes up.

          You Democrats make it sound like Black People are just IDIOTS and can't figure out how to get a ID let alone Vote. I find that Insulting. Every other race is just fine, but those Black People?!?! Talking about pandering.

          I'm all about every single LEGAL person having the right to Vote ONCE a election!!!! Not 2, 3, 4 times as they get bused around. Not having any ID is laughable.

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 30 Oct 2016 @ 4:58am

      Re: Re:

      I'm sure that in your happy little insulated world, having a driver's license is no big deal. But for lots of people who are poor and/or elderly and/or live in rural areas, it's a real damn big deal. (Doubly so when, as noted downthread, it's made a requirement and THEN the DMV offices are closed.) Your white privilege is showing.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 31 Oct 2016 @ 5:18pm

        Re: Re: Re:

        Your Idiocy is showing!!! You don't need a Driver's License, you just get a State ID card!!! Easy enough for ANYONE to do.

        How can a Poor or Elderly go through life no NO ID? You mean they aren't getting Social Security, Medicaid, Food Stamps, Obama phone, and the list goes on and on. Which you need a ID for all of them!!!

        They don't Rent or own someplace to live? Don't you need a ID? No credit Cards? Don't you need a ID? Bank account? Don't you need a ID? How can you go through life with No idea? No SSN? You're Voting at least every 2 years, normally in November. This is not a surprise.

        You have months to YEARS to get a ID. How can this be a issue? Yet somehow these same people can get out and go vote? Why don't you help these people get a ID? That's even more Important. How can you do anything with no idea?

        White Privilege? What crap is that. That to be sounds pretty raciest!!! You are a Raciest!!! You're raciest against White people, and that's a fact! Man I wish I had some of that White Privilege you are throwing out. Instead of working hard all my life and not getting anything handed down to me. That's is beyond a weak excuse for doing nothing with your life. Blaming others for your laziness.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 31 Oct 2016 @ 12:36pm

    So I guess the idiots at TD missed the part of rampant voter fraud being conducted en masse under the DNC:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5IuJGHuIkzY
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hDc8PVCvfKs
    https://ww w.youtube.com/watch?v=EEQvsK5w-jY

    This BS that voter ID laws are designed to suppress black voters is complete nonsense. What they're designed to do is keep the dead (1.3 million of the dead rose from the graves to vote last election), mass voter fraud, and none US citizens from voting.

    I've lost all respect for TD since apparently they're nothing more but pseudoliberal shills.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 31 Oct 2016 @ 5:23pm

      Re:

      You are exactly right! Say we said fine, No ID, instead stick your finger in the Ink, that shows you've voted, you can't go someplace else to vote. This is done in other countries. People would be up in arms with that also. Same Voter Suppression crap.

      But hey, you get a bunch of THUGS like the new Black Panthers hanging in front of a voting station with bat's and scaring people, capture on Video, and Obama not having a problem with that, that's worse to me. Look at it!!!

      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8PRYJqfcEe0

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]


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