Are you socially conservative or socially progressive? Are you economically left or economically right? Do you see yourself as left leaning, far right or are you ‘centrist’?
Maybe you’re a swing voter or maybe you have long standing loyalty to particular political parties regardless of the policies they have?
Maybe you have no god damn idea about any of those things. But maybe, just maybe, you do care about the future of your country. Maybe, just maybe, you want to vote to choose what you see as the best representative of your views and beliefs in the governing of Australia.
But with so much propaganda spilling out from all sides, how are you supposed to believe who? And how are you even supposed to filter whose policies belong to who? And then after all that, you’ve still got to figure out who to choose from between the House of Representatives and the Senate.
Voting is, frankly, a nightmare.
However, relief is here! That’s right, if you’re just not sure about who to vote for or who fits your views and beliefs, there is now a tool to help make that choice.
Well, to be honest there are a few tools out there. And two in particular have caught our attention.
A few days ago a friend of ours sent us a screenshot of a grid matrix. At the top of the grid was, ‘socially progressive’. At the bottom was, ‘socially conservative’. Over on the left was, ‘economic left’ and over on the right was, ‘economic right’.
Then within the grid were five little dots. One was green and sat up in the top left of the grid, indicating socially progressive and economic left. This represented the Greens Party.
In the top left quadrant, but closer to the middle was the red dot. This represented the Labor Party.
Moving diagonally down in the bottom right quadrant closer to the economic right and socially conservative was a blue dot. This represented the Liberal/National coalition.
And then down the bottom under the blue dot was an orange one. This dot represented Pauline Hanson’s One Nation Party. Very much socially conservative and heading towards the economic right.
And then there was a black dot, we won’t say where, but it was the location on the grid of our friend.
We were intrigued. What was this chart, and where did we fit on it?
We asked what it was. He told us the ABC website had a tool to help find out where you exist on the grid. We went to the ABC site to check it out.
The ABC calls it ‘Vote Compass’. And it asks you a series of questions, 30 in total, about different policies. Some of the questions include:
‘How accessible should abortion services be in Australia?
‘How many immigrants should Australia admit?
‘How much should the government do to reduce the gap between richer and poorer Australians?’
The answers you can give range from ‘strongly disagree’ or ‘much less’ up to ‘strongly agree’ or ‘much more’. After the 30 questions, then things get a little more interesting.
Question of the day…
It has a very specific question about franking credit refunds that it calls the ‘question of the day’. It’s been the question of the day for a week now…
It then goes through questions about the parties and the leaders of each of them. But it’s the ‘Profile’ section that had our attention.
After all this the survey asks about your voting preferences, who you voted for previously, your gender, year of birth, if you’ve been a student, your occupation, religion, language, whether you’re Australian or not, your cultural background, how many people live in your house, your income, if you’re politically left or right, and a few more very detailed personal questions.
Now the question we have is: Why do you need to know any of this if trying to help people understand what policies are relevant to them? You know what this really screams of? Profiling — heck they even admit it with the section header, ‘Profile’.
And what’s to stop the government from accessing the responses from those who might pop up as far right and building profiles on them. Let’s not forget the government has carte blanche to access metadata from those they suspect might be involved in criminal activity — without warrant.
Your IP address is a form of metadata. So maybe you’re a big One Nation fan. Maybe you resonate with some of the more socially conservative and economic right policies. Maybe you’re white, working class, in a constituency that is a ‘trouble spot’ for the government.
Maybe they have a more detailed profile on you now and you handed over that information without hesitation.
According to the site, at the time of writing, Vote Compass had 861,392 responses.
And it’s not the only one.
The other voting system we’ve seen is on The Age and The Sydney Morning Herald sites. It’s called Smartvote Australia. And according to The Age:
‘The interactive platform has been built in partnership with the Australian National University in a bid to sharpen the focus on policies, better inform voters, and lift faltering public trust in politics.’
Over at Smartvote Australia 133,039 people had responded at the time of writing.
Just between these two sites, nearly one million people have handed over some of their most critical data without second thought.
Now we should preface, that we can’t confirm those respondent numbers are truly accurate.
Mainly due to the fact we took the Vote Compass test twice just to see if there was any change in it, and what varying responses would result from it. We also didn’t provide accurate information with regards to our profession, income, age, constituency, or anything else really that is valuable, personal information. And we used a VPN to mask our IP address.
We suggest if you’re interested in answering these tests to legitimately see what policies fit in with your beliefs then do so, but just don’t give away any personal information at all. And if you don’t know what a VPN is, then just avoid the questionnaires altogether.
These quizzes are a form of data mining. It’s a way to get people to freely give away vital, valuable personal data under some unassuming guise. And what do you get for it? A black dot on a grid and no clearer indication of what the heck your voting actually means.
This kind of data sabotage is as bad as the census. It’s another avenue for those in authority to find out ways to track you, understand you and predict your behaviours. It leads down a very dark garden path. One which I believe every one of the parties that could win the election would happily walk down.
Editor, Secret Crypto Network