Both presidential candidates, Joe Biden and Donald Trump, have elections they use to further their campaign, collect data, and, ideally, reach the contacts of those who have downloaded the app.
While both apps leverage permissions and collect data from users, Trump’s election app is particularly egregious about the permissions it asks from its users. Here’s a side-by-side comparison of the two apps, courtesy of MIT Technology Review.
Experts point out that the bluetooth permission may allow the app to “follow” users as they move around and target them with specific messaging or communicate with other devices to build more complete profiles of the users (similar to how the advertising industry uses bluetooth beacons to personalize physical advertisements).
These apps are part of a larger initiative to leverage data collection, social media, always-available apps, highly curated news stories, and other personal technologies to target and advertise to a large audience in a way that feels personalized.
To get a sense of how these apps play a role in elections, check out MIT Technology Review’s article to learn how similar strategies have been used in India and Mexico.