Partisan self-interest is an important driver for people’s support for the regulation of targeted political advertising
ISSN der Zeitschrift
The rapid emergence of online targeted political advertising has raised concerns over data privacy and what the government’s response should be. This paper tested and confirmed the hypothesis that public attitudes toward stricter regulation of online targeted political advertising are partially motivated by partisan self-interest. We conducted an experiment using an online survey of 1549 Americans who identify as either Democrats or Republicans. Our findings show that Democrats and Republicans believe that online targeted political advertising benefits the opposing party. This belief is based on their conviction that their political opponents are more likely to be mobilized by online targeted political advertising than are supporters of their own party. We exogenously manipulated partisan self-interest considerations of a random subset of participants by truthfully informing them that, in the past, online targeted political advertising has benefited Republicans. Our findings show that Republicans informed about this had less favorable attitudes toward regulation than did their uninformed co-partisans. This suggests that Republicans’ attitudes regarding stricter regulation are based not solely on concerns about privacy violations, but also, in part, are caused by beliefs about partisan advantage. The results imply that people are willing to accept violations of their privacy if their preferred party benefits from the use of online targeted political advertising.