Historically, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) has served as the “nation’s guardian of liberty, working daily in courts, legislatures and communities to defend and preserve the individual rights and liberties that the Constitution and laws of the United States guarantee everyone in this country.”  The latest issue that has caught the attention of the ACLU is the use of Facebook’s  “sentiment analysis tool” which provides data specifically to the American political organization, Politico.

United States users of Facebook who mention a presidential candidate’s name, either in public or private posts, are fed through Facebook’s sentiment analysis tool do determine the winner of the “Facebook Primary.”  The ACLU argues that the data collected from users for the Facebook and Politico’s joint effort to “measure GOP candidate buzz” was gathered without the knowledge of the Facebook users.  The ACLU claims that Facebook “failed to reveal any mention of user consent anywhere in their announcement of the project and questions how Facebook decided that the U.S. users agreed that their personal communication can and should be used in this way.”

Whether or not Facebook failed to gain the consent of its United States users in using personal communication, the long-term effect of this marriage between social media and political websites, such as Politico, suggests the growing power of social media in American society. Political candidates will likely ramp up the use of programs like this in order to maximize their electability.

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