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    If You Can't Beat 'Em: Berlin's Social Media Spending for Political Ads Jumps

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    German media have reported that the country’s ministry has significantly increased its spending on political advertising in social media.

    Expenditures for advertising and other publications in social media at the request of the Germany's government increased dramatically in 2017 as compared to 2013, German paper Bild reported on Saturday, citing the Cabinet's response to the parliamentary question by the Alternative for Germany (AfD) party.

    According to the tabloid, in the past year marked by the elections to the German Bundestag, the federal government spent €4.9 ($6.01) million placing ads on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. In 2013, when members of the 18th Bundestag of Germany were being elected, the sum was only €156,700 ($192,400).

    It is noteworthy that ads were reportedly acquired based on users' political preferences.

    "How can the government both be Facebook's client and negotiate with the company on data protection?" said AfD-aliogend politician Leif-Erik Holm. "The one who criticizes this social network has no right to use personal data [of its users]."

    READ MORE: Not Christian Enough for Christian Union? Merkel Faces Coup Within Her Party

    The reports come amid scandals surrounding Facebook's misuse of users' personal data for political purposes.

    In March, it was made public that personal information of about 50 million Facebook users had been harvested without their permission by the Cambridge Analytica consultancy firm. While working for major political campaigns, the firm gathered data to develop a mechanism that would predict and influence the behavior of US voters. Facebook estimated the number of users affected at around 87 million, mostly located in the United States.

    In Germany it was revealed that two major political parties — the Christian Democrats (CDU) and Free Democrats (FDP) — bought voter data from Deutsche Post, the former state-owned postal giant, which may have allowed them to target political advertising to specific parts of the electorate, according to documents seen by Bild am Sonntag.    

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    social media, advertising, Facebook, Germany
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