How Who Targets Me works
Who Targets Me develops free software to help voters, journalists and researchers understand how political campaigns are chasing their vote using Facebook advertising. Over 30,000 people have installed Who Targets Me’s browser extension around the world.
How do I install and set up the browser extension?
To set it up, you first need to install the software in your web browser. It’s available for Google Chrome and Mozilla Firefox (Apple’s Safari and Microsoft’s Edge browsers are incompatible at the moment).
Then, when you click to open the extension for the first time, you are asked to create a voluntary anonymous profile (age, gender, location, political leaning). This anonymous data will never be used to attempt to identify any user, nor combined with any other data that might make that possible.
The extension is now set up, and you can continue to use Facebook as normal.
How does it work?
To gather political ads, the software scans your Facebook newsfeed for ‘Sponsored’ posts (ignoring everything else). These sponsored posts are matched against categorised lists of political advertisers that we research on an ongoing basis.
The software then uses these categories to display a personalised breakdown of the political ads you have been targeted with over the last six weeks, along with the ad’s headline and copy, a link to it, information as to why you’re seeing them, and comparisons with the way other groups of Who Targets Me users are being targeted.
What happens with the data?
We securely store the political ads collected in the Who Targets Me database, which we make available to partners (political science academics at reputable universities and institutes and journalists at known, responsible publications) to analyse and report on what we see.
The data also informs our policy recommendations about the best ways to make online political advertising more transparent and, ultimately, to regulate it.
To prevent misuse, we do not make the data available publicly, and will never allow commercial use of it.
What is a political ad?
For the purposes of the Who Targets Me browser extension, a political ad is quite narrowly defined as coming from pages obviously participating in electoral politics or campaigns. This includes political parties and their affiliates, candidates and third parties and ‘others’ who are obviously trying to influence votes or the resources (fundraising or volunteering) at play.
We categorise the pages into groups, such as “Labour” which contains the main party page, Jeremy Corbyn’s page, along with ads run by any Labour candidate, local or regional party or group. Clicking on any group’s bar in your personalised results will show you any ads you have seen from pages in that group.
Where does it work?
Who Targets Me is available in the following languages:
English, German, Spanish, Italian, Hungarian, Russian, Latvian, Portuguese, Swedish, Ukrainian, Finnish, French, Dutch, Hebrew, Bulgarian, Czech, Estonian, Greek, Macedonian, Polish, Romanian, Slovak, Slovenian, Maltese, Serbo-Croatian, Danish and Irish.
Personalised results are available in:
Australia, Austria, Belgium, Brazil, Bulgaria, Canada, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Ecuador, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Great Britain, Greece, Hungary, Israel, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Liechtenstein, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Nigeria, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Ukraine and the USA.
What if I no longer want to take part?
You can remove the Who Targets Me browser extension at any time by right clicking the extension icon and choosing ‘Remove…’.
If you prefer, you can also delete all data you’ve created as part of the project. To do this, click to open the extension, select ‘Delete Data’ from the footer menu and follow the on screen instructions.
Please feel free to ask them via our contact form.