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A conservative analytics firm apparently scraped a huge trove of Reddit data as part of its voter-targeting efforts. As reported by Gizmodo, GOP-contracted company Deep Root Analytics accidentally put a folder titled “reddit” on a publicly accessible web server along with other internal records, which cyber risk analyst Chris Vickery discovered last week. It contains 170GB of data from several subreddits, but no indication of how Deep Root might be using the information.
The subreddits in question range from innocuous to controversial. One was the banned subreddit r/fatpeoplehate, which Gizmodo speculates was picked for its connection to Trump fans — a FiveThirtyEight analysis of r/The_Donald members found that outside explicitly political subreddits, these users overlapped most strongly with r/fatpeoplehate members.
Deep Root leaked profiles of nearly 200 million potential voters as well, and it’s possible that it was trying to match names to Reddit profiles — which would give them a deep look at the preferences of specific voters. Gizmodo notes that the Obama campaign matched voter records with Facebook profiles, but it’s unclear that someone could do the same with Reddit, where few people operate under their real names.
The company could also simply be looking for correlations in Reddit users’ interests, which could help predict which messages will resonate with specific categories of voters. All we can say for sure from this leak is that political analysts are watching Reddit — which, given its prominence during the election, isn’t a surprise.
The data leak contains a wealth of personal information on roughly 61 percent of the US population. Along with home addresses, birthdates, and phone numbers, the records include advanced sentiment analyses used by political groups to predict where individual voters fall on hot-button issues such as gun ownership, stem cell research, and the right to abortion, as well as suspected religious affiliation and ethnicity. The data was amassed from a variety of sources—from the banned subreddit r/fatpeoplehate to American Crossroads, the super PAC co-founded by former White House strategist Karl Rove.
UpGuard cyber risk analyst Chris Vickery discovered Deep Root’s data online last week. More than a terabyte was stored on the cloud server without the protection of a password and could be accessed by anyone who found the URL.
Although files possessed by Deep Root would be typical in any campaign, Republican or Democratic, experts say its exposure in a single open database raises significant privacy concerns. “This is valuable for people who have nefarious purposes,” Joseph Lorenzo Hall, the chief technologist at the Center for Democracy and Technology, said of the data.
The RNC paid Deep Root $983,000 last year, according to Federal Election Commission reports, but its server contained records from a variety of other conservative sources paid millions more, including The Data Trust (also known as GOP Data Trust), the Republican party’s primary voter file provider. Data Trust received over $6.7 million from the RNC during the 2016 cycle, according to OpenSecrets.org, and its president, Johnny DeStefano, now serves as Trump’s director of presidential personnel.
The Koch brothers’ political group Americans for Prosperity, which had a data-swapping agreement with Data Trust during the 2016 election cycle, contributed heavily to the exposed files, as did the market research firm TargetPoint, whose co-founder previously served as director of Mitt Romney’s strategy team. (Funding from the Koch brothers also propelled a data company known as i360, which began exchanging voter files with Data Trust in 2014.) Furthermore, the files provided by Rove’s American Crossroads contain strategic voter data used to target, among others, disaffected Democrats and undecideds in Nevada, New Hampshire, Ohio, and other key battleground states.
Deep Root further obtained hundreds of files (at least) from The Kantar Group, a leading media and market research company with offices in New York, Beijing, Moscow, and more than a hundred other cities on six continents. Each file offers rich details about political ads—estimated cost, audience demographics, reach, and more—by and about figures and groups spanning the political spectrum.
Spreadsheets acquired from TargetPoint, which partnered with Deep Root and GOP Data Trust during the 2016 election, include the home addresses, birthdates, and party affiliations of nearly 200 million registered voters in the 2008 and 2012 presidential elections, as well as some 2016 voters. TargetPoint’s data seeks to resolve questions about where individual voters stand on dozens of political issues. For example: Is the voter eco-friendly? Do they favor lowering taxes? Do they believe the Democrats should stand up to Trump? Do they agree with Trump’s “America First” economic stance? Pharmaceutical companies do great damage: Agree or Disagree?
During the 2016 election season, Reddit played host to a legion of Trump supporters who gathered in subreddits like r/The_Donald to comb through leaked Democratic National Committee emails and craft pro-Trump memes. Trump himself participated in an “Ask Me Anything” session on r/The_Donald during his campaign.
Given how active some Trump supporters are on Reddit—r/The_Donald currently boasts more than 430,000 members—it makes sense that Trump’s data team might be interested in analyzing data from the site.
A FiveThirtyEight analysis that looked at where r/The_Donald members spend their time when they’re not talking politics might shed some light onto why Deep Root collected r/fatpeoplehate data. FiveThirtyEight found that, when Redditors weren’t commenting in political subreddits, they most often frequented r/fatpeoplehate.
It’s possible that Deep Root intended to use data from r/fatpeoplehate to build a more comprehensive profile of Trump voters. (Lundry declined to comment beyond his initial statement on any of information included in the Deep Root dataset.)
However, FiveThirtyEight’s investigation doesn’t account for Deep Root’s collection of data from mountain-biking and Spanish-speaking subreddits that weren’t as popular with r/The_Donald members—and data from these subreddits that are not so closely linked to Trump’s diehard supporters might be more useful for his campaign’s goal of pursuing swing voters.
“My guess is that they were scraping Reddit posts to match to the voter file as another input for individual modeling,” a source familiar with campaign data operations told Gizmodo. “Given the number of random forums, my guess is they started with a list of accounts to scrape from, rather than scraping from all forums then trying to match from there (in which case you’d start with the political ones).”
originally posted by: butcherguy
a reply to: DanteGaland
WHO is influencing YOUR mind....?
It isn't the people that own the MSM.
But that doesn't mean that they aren't influencing other people's minds.
GOP Data Firm Accidentally Leaks Personal Details of Nearly 200 Million American Voters
A huge trove of voter data, including personal information and voter profiling data on what's thought to be every registered US voter dating back more than a decade, has been found on an exposed and unsecured server, ZDNet has learned.
It's believed to be the largest ever known exposure of voter information to date.
The various databases containing 198 million records on American voters from all political parties were found stored on an open Amazon S3 storage server owned by a Republican data analytics firm, Deep Root Analytics.
originally posted by: dreamingawake
In the eyes of the control grid, and with opposites side of the same coin, in the information war there's a lot at stake to not to monitor sites as revealed.
With the leak in particular this is pretty damaging considering what the data could be used for. Remember that cheating website and what happened when that was leaked? Much bigger number of people affected here.
originally posted by: Jonjonj
Who is surprised though? After the whole ShareBlue debacle.
Reddit main subs are completely compromised with astroturfing and vote manipulation. It is nothing more than a msm news aggregator with comments.