Like so many other years, this week the UK election has dominated the media and press. Debating the pro’s and con’s of individual parties has always sparked journalist interest and this year is no different.

Social media now also plays a great part in the UK election with parties able to connect directly with voters and take on-board individual comments through the likes of Facebook and Twitter – these platforms offer more direct methods of communication. Since the launch of Facebook and Twitter, Social Media users have also enjoyed the freedom to debate on political issues between themselves, by using these platforms to air views, both here in the UK and globally.

Whilst Social Media proves to be a positive mode of engagement for connecting with voters during the UK election, there has been some concern over how parties are interacting in order to gain their nomination.

In respect of this, the Information Commissioner Elizabeth Denham, has recently launched an investigation into how UK political parties are targeting voters based on their data and has warned political parties that they could indeed be breaking the law.

A social media inquiry into the UK Election

Documented in The Guardian Newspaper, “Inquiry launched into targeting of UK voters through social media” The articles refers to the Radio 4’s Media Show, where Denham said “the investigation into the use of data analytics by political campaigners was a “high priority” and was intended “to uphold the rights of individuals and ensure that political campaigners and companies providing services to political parties operate within UK law”. She has assembled a dedicated team including researchers, technologists and lawyers for the inquiry, which will take several months.”

The main point here is that users of social media need to be aware that messages and debates between friends are being collected. How the information is used further is not always known but as long as they are made aware of this then parties will be adhering to Data Protection Policy. The Conservatives and Labour UK Election political parties are known to have allocated £1million for targeted advertising through Facebook by the use of collected data from defined activity used on the platform.

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