For example, one such hypothetical technique could be implemented by Facebook, the world's largest social-media network. It's plausible that Facebook would send "go out and vote" reminders on election day. But what if not every US user gets this reminder? That could happen, the authors say, speculating that some voters could be conveniently left out. According to the article, it could add up to some 600,000 potential votes in favor of an opposing candidate, which is some half a percent of the US eligible-voter figure of 130 million. While one could argue that this is not a significant number, it should be noted that this technique is part of a larger scheme, also untraceable, and actually legal, under current US legislation.
All of these potential machinations are legal and cannot be controlled, let alone detected, unless strict regulations are imposed on tech companies, which is unlikely, due to those companies' close ties to the halls of power.
If speculation about possible manipulation techniques might smack of paranoia, it is much harder to deny the fact that Silicon Valley favors Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton overwhelmingly, over the Republican candidate Donald Trump. It is known that donations from the tech sector to the Democrats exceed those to the GOP some 25 to 1.
And thanks to WikiLeaks and the Podesta emails, we now know for sure that Eric Schmidt, the chairman of Google's parent company Alphabet, worked closely with the Clinton campaign.
Both Epstein and Edelman support Clinton, but regard freedom of information to be more important than the success of their preferred candidate. "What if, next time, Google and Facebook support a candidate who serves their needs more than the needs of society at large?" the authors ask.
There are two larger problems, apart from voter manipulation. First, as mentioned above, online techniques, including modifying matching algorithms for Tinder's Swipe-the-Vote online service, are not fraud, and a work must be done where legislation meets tech. It's Wild West for the tech giants right now.