Unsplash photo by NeONBRAND

January 9, 2020

Facebook’s political ad announcement today is, while by no means perfect, a good step forward and certainly avoids the dangerous consequences we publicly warned against when Twitter and Google rashly changed their policies late last year. The announced changes increase transparency around disclosure and user experience, but represent a continuation of the status quo on targeting — and that’s a good thing.

Further restrictions to targeting options, like Google implemented, throw the baby out with the bathwater, hurting new candidates, those who don’t have reality-star-social-media level followings or bottomless checkbooks. …

There are 7,383 state legislative seats in the United States. State Houses and State Senates govern the policy that affects our daily lives — on healthcare, guns, education, voting rights, women’s right to choose and much more. In most states, the legislatures draw the lines for theU.S. House districts, setting the stage for control of that chamber through 2032. For these reasons, Tech for Campaigns focuses its efforts on flipping state legislatures blue.

With these critical issues on the line, a coming redistricting process in 2022, and a dizzying array of thousands of elections next year, focus is a strategic…

Co-written with Jim Sorenson, TFC volunteer data scientist, and the rest of the Build the List team

In the 2018 elections, 380 state legislative seats flipped from red to blue as Democratic turnout surged and educated districts abandoned the GOP. While many eyes were on federal and statewide races, for reasons we have previously outlined, the state legislative results were just as important. These flips produced eight new Democratic majorities in state legislatures — crucial for passing legislation that can have real impacts on our daily lives.

Tech for Campaigns (TFC) concentrates on winning seats in state legislatures; however, with…

The techniques were not sophisticated, but the messages were on target.

By Anela Chan and Greg Dale, Tech for Campaigns

Mixing the likes of Laurel and Yanny with malicious intent, Russian trolls in 2015–17 produced thousands of pieces of divisive clickbait — and Americans consumed it voraciously.

On May 10, 2018, Democrats on the House Intelligence Committee released 3,500 Facebook and Instagram ads posted between June 2015 and July 2017 by the Internet Research Agency (IRA), a Saint Petersburg-based “troll farm” known for its efforts to influence public opinion through social media. Tech for Campaigns is focused on the intersection of digital tools and politics, and so we took a deep…

We need to protect our privacy. But that alone won’t return sanity to our politics.

The 2016 presidential election was an explosive reinforcement of the dark potential of online influence. Cambridge Analytica, with its purloined Facebook data and skill at mythical self-promotion, has arisen as a perfect boogeyman for these gloomy times.

To be clear, the scandal exposed real privacy issues that need to be dealt with — urgently — but it shouldn’t distract the broader Democratic campaign community from the continuing need to uplevel its digital efforts. As a society, we need to reckon with the abuse of personal digital data and how to best stop it. Separately, campaigners should not take the scandal…

Bringing startup scale to progressive and centrist politics

Last week, we published Tech for Campaigns’ 2018 Priorities list for State Legislatures, detailing the fourteen states we are focused on for state legislative races. This week, we wanted to zoom out — and in — on how TFC established and is executing on its 2018 strategy. (Plus, I’ll be hosting a Facebook Live on April 4th at 5PM to chat more about it — check it out!)

In 2018, TFC is aiming to allocate its 70% of its volunteer efforts to state legislature races and 30% to federal and statewide races (U.S. House, U.S. Senate, Governor, Lt. Governor, etc.)…

Focusing digital volunteer efforts for maximum impact

Although a political news junkie for as long as I can remember, I had been satisfied as a bystander. I hosted a community event or two for Obama 2008 and donated some to Hillary 2016, obsessively refreshed Nate Silver and Politico like many, but doing more seemed like someone else’s job. In November 2016, like for many others, things changed. Within months, I had joined Tech for Campaigns as a volunteer and was running ads across Newport News and Williamsburg, Virginia for the successful re-election of Delegate Mike Mullin. This week, I am thrilled to be joining TFC full-time as…

My own Google Photos. Amazing, but those aren’t Bikes or Cars.

Computers are dumb. They’ve gotten faster throughout the decades, though, and programmers have increasingly stacked up larger amounts of simple instructions to make computers do ‘smart’ things. Computers, for their part, are happy to execute these instructions over and over again. Since the 1980s, when white collar workers began to use Lotus 1–2–3 to automate spreadsheets, software has subtly trained its users to expect predictable behavior. One interface may be more confusing than the next, but all users implicitly know that when one hits Play, the video should play. If it does not, something is wrong.

Now, in the era…

Technology’s gotten better, but history shows successful chatbots are dependent on personality, too.


(For more articles, visit www.gregdale.net)

What’s so interesting about talking robots? From The Tin Man and C3P0 to HAL 9000, humans have long fantasized about bringing their lovable idiosyncrasies to metal and silicon. Now, as intelligent assistants and chatbots become real presences in our lives, owing to impressive technological developments in machine learning and natural language understanding, a look at that history shows personality, not technology, is actually just as necessary for success.

The chatbot story begins in the early sixties

In 1966, a German-American professor at MIT, Joseph Weizenbaum, unveiled ELIZA. …

While it still has some tricks up its sleeve, there’s no immediate route to re-ignite revenue growth.

Snap’s Snap Publisher Tool

Snap, Inc.’s third quarter 2017 earnings caught notice: a $40m accounting write-down on unsold Spectacles glasses and a complete reversal on product strategy towards a re-design of the app. In Snap’s ad business, things were no better: Snap’s Average Revenue Per User is only 10% of Facebook’s, revenue growth is rapidly diminishing, and there’s no clear path to fix it. Management attributed the revenue issues to temporary changes in the ad business’s structure, but barring the outsized success of the pending product re-design, the weakness is likely permanent.

Greg Dale

Director of Campaign Relations, Tech for Campaigns

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