On the impact of online advertising


Seamus McCauley is horrifed by the effect of online targetted advetising upon politics. Essentially, it's possibly to target such advertising so precisely that only the losers from a particular political proposal will see the ads. So instead of everyone considering said policy, only those who would suffer are alerted to it and of course, only those who would lose from it are likely to start shouting about how it shouldn't happen.

Seamus thinks this is a horrible idea:

But as soon as parties start targeting just those who lose out...well, no policy will be allowed to have any losers at all. Or even any perceived losers, potential losers or possible losers. Every policy will have to be good for everyone, or good for everyone that ad targeting is sophisticated enough to isolate.

At a time when hard decisions have to be made this will mean entirely bland decisions.

Me personally of course I think this is an absolutely marvellous idea. Quite blindingly wonderful in its implications for the political system. For of course there are very few policies indeed which benefit everyone. Defence of the realm, the existence of a functional legal system, low and easy taxes to pay for them...our own namesake had something to say on this point didn't he, that this was all that was required to carry a nation from barbarism to opulence?

Other than those three necessaries, there really aren't all that many policies that benefit everyone. Thus government will be dissuaded from having any policies than those three. Who would have thought it, the minarchist State brought to you by online advertising technology?