Never mind the algorithms: the role of click farms and exploited digital labor in Trump’s election

The debate over who, in the media and in the IT scene, is responsible for Trump’s victory is just starting. I have been claiming for a long time that the issue is not an algorithmic one. The “algorithmic” candidate was Hillary Clinton: she embraced the big data targeting approach that helped Obama’s victory in 2012, and it seems that her campaign was coordinated by a data processing system called Ada.On the contrary, the secret of the Talking Combover’s victorious campaign is the exploitation of crowds of “click workers”, most of them located on the other side of the globe. If Hillary Clinton spent $ 450 millions, by comparison Trump spent less (about half of her budget), by under-paying subcontractors recruited on micro-work platforms.An army of digital pieceworkers living in developing countriesMaybe you have read the bitter-sweet news about a Singapore teenager who helped create a Prezi presentation for Trump. She was recruited on Fiverr, a platform where, for a few bucks, you can buy copywriters, graphic designers or coders. Those micro-workers live in more than 200 countries, but less well-paid tasks are mainly allocated to South-East Asian workers. This young Singaporean’s inspiring story must not distract from the real topic here: Trump customarily outsourced the production of campaign materials to underpaid digital pieceworkers recruited on digital labor platforms. The secret weapon of this racist, misogynistic candidate, well-known for shortchanging his employees was the exploitation of underage Asian crowdworkers. Who would have thought?singapore-trumpYet, some types of offshore micro-workers are less exemplary. You may have heard of the story of the “Macedonian spammers”. Turns out Trump received an unexpected help by working-class students of a little post-industrial town located in an ex-socialist country in Central Europe. They trained themselves to provide content designed to generate likes and posts promoting the worst hate messages and disinformation, in order to profit from a large click-market.

Source: Never mind the algorithms: the role of click farms and exploited digital labor in Trump’s election | Antonio A. Casilli"