In the fawning media coverage of the Obama campaign’s technological prowess, it did not occur to observers at the time to call this a startling invasion of privacy. And it wasn’t, or at a very minimum, the privacy risks were arguably outweighed by the benefits. A tool like this could be the future of politics: door-to-door canvassing for the digital age, and…
Yes, to left media the benefits outweighed the risks so they did not complain, but there was quite a bit of noise, concern, and complaint in the right blogosphere, which in 2012 was just starting to consolidate into right media that we saw in the 2016 cycle. In fact, a lot of that consolidation grew out of the concerns of Team Obama’s online tactics in ‘12. I’m sure it is why the Mercers and others were looking for a Cambridge Analytica. Facebook would never let any right politician use such an app as Obama did and Team Romney’s fancy system had utterly failed. They needed something else.
The right also had discussions about ceding the forum. There were plenty of people creeped out and alarmed about that Obama app and getting conservatives to remain on social media if they received one of those emails was difficult. They were angry about the politics and concerned about the implications of a program that could do that. It’s probably one of the main reasons, next to age, that left leaning voters outnumber right voters on social media. People left, or decided not to join in the first place.
This whole thing was a big deal on the right. But it helped get Obama elected, thus those concerns were not heard outside of the right blogosphere.