Why does England get Facebook’s worst political ad transparency?

The UK has a parliamentary system with 650 seats, representing 650 distinct geographically bounded constituencies. Each seat elects an MP. An MP wins if they get more votes than anyone else from voters in their constituency. The party with the most MPs forms the government. That party leader becomes Prime Minister. But you know all […]

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Apple, Haugen, Facebook’s Q4 “death” and what it means for political ads

Facebook’s most recent set of numbers look bad. They showed users aren’t flocking to the platform in the same way as in previous years. Perhaps they’ve reached saturation point in most markets or users find themselves turned off by the reports following Frances Haugen’s whistleblowing. Alongside this, advertisers are finding it harder to target those […]

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The UK party political case for regulating online political advertising

To start this post with something fancy, let’s go back to Thucydides (an ancient Greek historian). He wrote: “It was the rise of Athens and the fear that this instilled in Sparta that made war inevitable.” For what it’s worth, this is pretty much the root of realist political thought. Everything’s a power game, where […]

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The State of Targeting in German 2021 elections (Aug 30th to Sep 13th)

By Fabio Votta. There are less than 10 days left until the German parliamentary elections and the campaigns are picking up steam by heavily increasing their spending. Between August 30th and September 13th, 2021 Who Targets Me users saw over 12,000 political ads in their timelines. We can use the data they provide us with […]

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“Troll farms” and political ads

MIT Technology Review yesterday reported a story about how ‘troll farms’ (probably better described as ‘profiteering content spammers’) copy and repost content to gain (a lot of) traction on Facebook. The spammers’ strategy gamed the way the company chooses to display content to users, ensuring their posts got lots of engagement, before racking up even […]

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The Ray-Ban political ad library

Last week, Ray-Ban, in collaboration with Facebook, launched glasses that take photos and videos, and have little speakers in the arms for playing podcasts and the like (via Bluetooth – the glasses don’t have standalone network connectivity just yet). The speakers are “discreetly” built into the arms, so you can walk around, listening away, without […]

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How Facebook could publish targeting information and preserve user privacy

Ever since Facebook first started publishing political ad data in 2018, many organisations, including ourselves, have called for them to include information about ad targeting. So far, there’s been no movement on this, with Facebook arguing there’s a privacy risk if this data is combined with data from other parts of Facebook.  Here’s what (we […]

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Why (and how) the UK Online Safety Bill should regulate political ads

The UK Government’s proposed Online Safety Bill doesn’t currently include any measures that cover political advertising. However, we think that, being platform-focused, it’s actually a really good place to address some of the platform-level risks that online political ads create. (Other future legislation can think about those risks from the perspective of campaigners). So we […]

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Fact checking comes to Who Targets Me

Today we’re launching the first phase of some new features to allow the Who Targets Me browser extension to become part of the workflow of any reputable fact checking organisation in the world. Initially, we will be working with Correctiv for the German election, and Full Fact in the UK. We hope to add more […]

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