Yesterday, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Emigrants announced that the online registration has closed. More than 90,0000 registered Lebanese expats will be voting in the upcoming Lebanese elections 2018.
This is the first time in the history of Lebanon in which non-resident Lebanese will be able to vote. I work as a social media and digital marketing consultant in Lebanon, so I was excited to check the website. Not only i was shocked that the website does not comply with international data privacy and protection laws. But also users who visit this site are being tracked using cookies without their consent.
Below you can see that the website has two google analytics codes installed and one facebook pixel. So who has access to the Lebanese expats data and is the data protected?
So what is a cookie and what can we do with it?
Have you ever noticed that you recently visited a website and suddenly that becomes the focus of online ads following you on different websites? A cookie tracks your browsing behavior and can be set to be valid for any amount of time.
In a simple explanation, once you visit a website, I can target you with ads that show up on other websites across different devices. While Facebook can use the data collected to expand your current user base to “lookalike audience”. This helps you target people with similar likes, interests, and demographics to people who are already interacting with your website.
Example. I can actually launch a “Fake News” campaign on Facebook and target everyone who visited diasporavote.mfa.gov.lb with a certain advertising message. Then target those 90K who registered with another ad. I can also expand my campaign to those who didn’t visit the site but rather look similar, Lebanese living abroad on Facebook. “Fake News” can impact the results of the upcominh elections in Lebanon similar to what happened in the 2016 presidential election in the United States of America.
International laws for data protection should be applied in Lebanon even if its the government collecting the data.
Nevertheless, the ability of Lebanese expats to vote for the very first time is a great initiative launched by Minister Gebran Basil to hopefully succeed in changing the political situation in Lebanon
This post was featured in the dailystar and on TV