About us

The Project

Who Targets Me was developed to help you discover which campaigns are spending their money targeting you during the 2017 general election. Analysing the aggregated data will allow us to draw out insights about exactly which demographics are being targeted and the exact media and language that campaigners are using to influence your vote.

To achieve this, the WTM team developed a desktop browser extension that works in the background to extract and analyse each political advert shown to you on social media. You can download the extension from our volunteer page.

Why is this Important?

In the run up to the 2015 General Election a combined £1.3m was spent on targeted Facebook advertising by political parties. Such a phenomenon didn’t exist during the 2010 general election, the rise of dark ads has been swift and this trend can be observed globally, perhaps most noticeably in 2016 when the Trump campaign spent tens of millions of dollars funding digital advertising with variable language tweaked to each individual’s particular personality traits.

In truth, nobody is completely sure of the scale campaigns are using big data and targeted advertising to affect our politics. Who Targets Me is recognising that we the people can use technology and big data to monitor the campaigns and defend the transparency of this democracy.

As Tom Steinberg points out, if Facebook (and Google) were to publish their data on how campaigns use advertising, it would be incredibly illuminating — a great democratic service on their part. However, it’s likely that they can’t and won’t do it.

Who are You?

The project was founded by Sam Jeffers (The Shop) and Louis Knight-Webb shortly after the 2017 general election was announced. This is a citizen led non-partisan project, monitoring the advertising strategies of the parties. Our aim is to encourage transparency and restore trust in our political system. We’re honoured to be working with such a great team of developers, researchers, lawyers and journalists.

We hope to foster a substantive debate about the effect of targeted advertising in our politics and, ultimately, a change in the way such adverts are regulated.

Featured in the press

Who Targets Me has been featured in the media and around the web:

  • 2nd June The Guardian. Labour accuses Tories of fake news over video of Corbyn IRA comments
  • 2nd June Metro Newspaper. Technology now in poll position
  • 2nd June BBC website. Facebook becomes key tool in parties’ political message
  • 2nd June New Statesman. Forget Labour Twitter bots – Tory Facebook ads are far more sinister
  • 31st May 2017 Breitbart. UK campaigner takes on Facebook ‘dark ads’ during election
  • May 18th TBIJ. Campaigners target voters with Brexit “dark ads”  
  • May 18th The Guardian. Gina Miller targets voters with tailored Facebook ads 
  • May 15th The Guardian Conservatives launch online offensive against Corbyn
  • 14 May 2017, Huffington Post. Tories Target Jeremy Corbyn In Most Prominent Facebook Election Advert
  • May 12th 2017 Press Gazette. Election 2017: Early data from Who Targets Me suggests Labour is spending most on Facebook Ads
  • 10th May 2017 Metro. What are Facebook ‘dark adverts’ – and could they swing the General Election?
  • 08 May 2017, CAPX. How to stop Facebook undermining democracy
  • 07 May 2017, Inforrm’s blog. We Need a New Regulatory Framework to Protect Democracy in the Age of Social Media – Susie Alegre
  • 07 May 2017, BuzzFeed News. The Conservatives Are Paying To Push Theresa May Into Your Instagram Feed
  • 05 May 2017, The Drum. Who targets you? A look at the crowdsourced project set to scrutinise Facebook ads during the general election
  • 04 May 2017, The Times. Facebook tool will show how politicians are targeting you
  • 03 May 2017, CNBC. This software shows you how the UK’s political parties precisely target people with advertising on Facebook
  • 03 May 2017, Talking New Media. French candidates lone debate today; Browser plug-in helps track how parties insert political messages into Facebook feeds
  • 03 May 2017, The Telegraph. This tool shows the political parties targeting you on Facebook
  • 03 May 2017, The Guardian. Free software to reveal how Facebook election posts are targeted
  • 03 May 2017, Alphr.com. General election 2017: This tool shows how political parties are manipulating you on Facebook
  • 03 May 2017, BetaNews.com. Chrome extension Who Targets Me? reveals how Facebook is used for election propaganda
  • 03 May 2017, IT Pro. Check which politicians are targeting you on Facebook
  • 26 Apr 2017, OpenDemocracy. Facebook needs to face up to the new political reality