Making Who Targets Me available to everyone, everywhere

27th Oct 2022 | Share:

The story so far…

We have always wanted Who Targets Me to be available to anyone who sees political ads and is interested in where they come from, why they see them, and what they can do to help democracy face up to the many challenges of the digital age.

That’s why we’ve tried to make as much of our software available in as many countries as we can.

In the past, to make this happen, we’ve translated Who Targets Me into lots of languages and maintained lists of advertisers for our software to match ads against in many, many countries. Where possible, we’ve worked with local partners in civil society, academia and journalism. When not possible, we’ve tried to do it ourselves.

However, with the resources we have, it is very hard to keep everything up to date, everywhere, all at once. Translations fall out of sync as we add new features and improvements to our tools and lists of political parties and the candidate pages and advertisers affiliated with them change from electoral cycle to electoral cycle.

The result is, if your election was a couple of years ago, your local version of Who Targets Me is probably out of date. If your election is a few months away, it’s probably on our radar, but we’re scrambling to get it done amid the many other things we’re working on.

Over the last few months, we’ve been working to change our approach. We want to move to a model whereby many more people can easily contribute to the maintenance of Who Targets Me, making it better for everyone.

To do this, we’re opening up access to some new tools for people who want to ensure there’s a current version of Who Targets Me available where they are. The tools will make it much easier to maintain current, accurate translations, as well as ensure that all of our datasets are underpinned with up-to-date lists of political advertisers.

In short, it should help solve the problems we describe above.

Who are we looking for?

In the past, we’ve worked with interested individuals, civil society organisations, journalists, independent and academic researchers. In short, people or organisations with an interest in political advertising and campaigns or privacy or human and democratic rights.

We’re looking to build a global network of people to help with this work.

What does it actually take to keep Who Targets Me running?

1/ Maintaining translations
Every few months, check that the translation template for your language is up to date and everything makes sense, then fix any issues and let us know so we can run the update across the software.

2/ Updating lists of advertisers
Every week, in every country in the world, hundreds of new advertisers publish political ads. We want to ‘tag’ each one with their political affiliation(s) so it’s easier to perform analyses of their messaging, spending and targeting.

Once tagged, we’ll publish this data so researchers anywhere can use it. It’ll become a common resource for the entire research community.

To do this, you’ll need to:

  • Login to the management tools every week or so (we’ll send a reminder)
  • Check the list of political parties/groups, that they are correctly named and that their party colour and logo are accurate.
  • Add any new groups likely to have an electoral impact in the coming months.
  • Upload a list of advertisers
  • Tag them with their party affiliation.
  • Research any you don’t already know to work out which tag(s) to give them (we provide some shortcuts and ideas to help with this).

The first time you do this, it may take a few hours to complete (though many hands makes light work). After doing it the first time, you’ll have far fewer advertisers to tag and it’ll only take a few minutes.

How can I help? What do I need to do to get started?

Easy – just email us. We’ll organise a meeting, talk you through the tasks, set you up with a login for the new tools and help you get going.

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