What is Who Targets Me?
Who Targets Me are a small group of activists creating and managing a crowdsourced global database of political adverts placed on social media.
We were founded by Sam Jeffers and Louis Knight Webb in 2017 during the UK elections to monitor the use of online political ads in real time and provide analysis of their intended impact. The Who Targets Me plug-in has now been installed by over 30,000 users worldwide in more than 100 countries and 20 languages.
Since 2017 we have worked on over 10 elections worldwide including in Europe, the Middle East, North and South America. We are grateful to the Joseph Rowntree Reform Trust, Open Society Foundations Information Programme and Democracy Fund for their support and also to Oxford and Sheffield Universities, Buzzfeed Germany and InternetLab in Brazil. We are always keen to hear about partnerships and funding opportunities.
If you have questions about the project or ideas for collaboration, please get in touch.
Why does this matter?
We believe democracy is at risk in the digital age.
The lack of transparency around political advertising and other political content on social media has contributed to this.
Politicians now spend millions on digital campaigns in pursuit of more effective ways of persuading voters to support them. They accumulate detailed data about voters. They harness the power of giant internet companies to help them reach millions or billions of people. They hire consultancies like Cambridge Analytica and they often try to hide some of the messages they share.
These risks are serious. Some people argue that this is nothing new. We disagree. Political adverts on social media are cheaper and more targeted than any other advertising in history.
As things stand, anyone with a credit card and a social media profile – whether that’s your local candidate or a state working to undermine democracy – can target voters with highly specific adverts designed to influence their political opinions.
We think the best way to campaign for transparency is to create it. That means building a crowdsourced dataset of political adverts and targeting. To take part, please install Who Targets Me.
What do we want?
We want a new set of norms and laws for democracy in the digital age where:
- Social media companies publish comprehensive information about all political advertising content, targeting and spending
- Laws governing elections are updated to account for data-driven digital campaigning
- Regulators are given tough new powers to enforce these laws