A browser extension to share data about your social feed with researchers and journalists to increase transparency.
Ad Observer is a crowdsourcing tool that will gather ads from a user's Facebook news feed—to enable investigative journalism and research. The project has new home and a new name. It is run by the Online Political Ads Transparency Project at New York University. This project used to be called the Political Ad Collector. Stewardship of the project was previously maintained by Quartz, The Globe and Mail and by ProPublica. When users log into Facebook, the tool will collect the ads displayed on the user's news feed and guess which ones are political. The tool does not collect any personally identifiable information. We will not know which ads are shown to which user. The political ads that are collected will be contributed to a database. We use the ads for research and journalistic purposes: covering Facebook, political messaging and digital advertising tactics.
- (2020-07-11) Venator: Alright.
- (2019-09-17) Dan S: An important tool for accountability - working for me with no disruptions to using facebook.
- (2018-10-30) Nicholas: Facebook is ruining democracy for profit and this app helps to document it.
- (2018-10-28) Tony MacDonald: Man I like the idea, but it makes facebook impossible to use. Hopefully someone will fix this and make it usable. :(
- (2018-10-15) Jo B: I had the issue of having the red i but I could not see the Submit button at the bottom. I tried everything. I contacted the group on this and Jeremy Merrill sent me this link and it worked. https://projects.propublica.org/political-ad-collector/ I then used Facebook on the same tab a few times as suggested by another commentor. I think I'm good to go now.
- (2018-10-06) Jānis Ķengurs: I would give no stars, cuz it made opera all the time to open each on screen focused posts settings ... (3dots) open. For idea 5 but not working and cant normaly see facebook anymore.
- (2018-09-23) Sherry Martin: I use chrome and had to disable it because it would snap back to top of page. Initially it only happened in groups but worsened until it was all areas of facebook except timeline. I also had the issue of ... opening over the post. I loved the concept but if you can't scroll beyond the first post in a group, it is not helpful.
- (2018-09-03) Brian Lee: I liked it but I had to disable it on Chrome. I started having a couple problems, one was that a /# kept getting added to every Facebook URL after a pause, and this would cause it to jump back to the beginning of the page. The second was than on every post the ... menu would automatically open after a pause, blocking the post. I wasn't sure what was causing that, but disabling this extension fixed it.
- (2018-02-22) Juliet Vrijhof-van Ree: Goed idee, het brengt in kaart wat er precies gebeurt op social media in de aanloop naar verkiezingen
- (2018-02-08) Levi Wallach: Great idea. One issue that just cropped up fro me though - first thing in the morning opened it up and in my bleary state clicked the 'political ad' button by accident. There needs to be an undo and/or a confirmation button because now I have a Coursera ad permanently stuck in as a political ad and no way to remove it. :(
- (2017-11-11) Great idea and cause, but unfortunately it breaks Chrome startup settings causing previous browsing session tabs to be loaded on startup despite settings in Chrome not to. Disabled this extension and the problem stopped. Please fix this bug.
- (2017-10-21) Luci Temple: This is a great and important tool for those who are sick of deceptive political advertising and want it brought to light. I love that ProPublica gives this information to media organisations such as The Guardian Australia so they have been able to write stories calling out the dodgy advertising of unethical organisations like Adani. I only wish that other organisations (such as our Advertising Standards Board) were as proactive and allowed us to report bad ads directly to them for legal consideration through a tool like this, or if there was one for reporting online harassment too. Thanks!
- (2017-09-27) Wentao Guo: This is such a cool and important thing that you all are doing at ProPublica. It would be helpful, though, if there were some basic guidelines or examples for what a "political ad" is to help us train the tool uniformly. For example, I know that political ads include ads in support of/against those running for office, but it would be good to know if the category also include ads like this: Stand Up America Special counsel Robert Mueller is investigating the Trump campaign’s alleged collusion with Russia during the 2016 election. Now, with the investigation closing in, Trump is panicking and threatening to fire Mueller. Demand Congress protects the investigation. Sign the petition today!
- (2017-09-27) Jade Blair: Important tool for media accountability
- (2018-03-12, v:1.5.15) Hayden Radford: Broken 'Ads Others Are Seeing'
Unsure if I've set this up incorrectly, or not, but the extension works great with collecting and classifying the ads that I see. However, when I click on the tab to see what ads others are seeing, it just appears totally blank and never loads anything; did I miss a step during setup? Not that major of a problem though, the rest of it functions like a treat and I really like it on the whole
- (2018-02-22, v:1.5.10) Jannet Westebring: werkt niet
Im checking political posts wich are promoted. But is doenst appear in the extension....
- (2018-02-17, v:1.5.9) Unable to open
I added the extension on my chrome browser. Upon initial installment, I was able to open the extension and see what ads I was seeing and which others were seeing. But now when I click on it, nothing happens. I deleted and reinstalled, same thing. Do I misunderstand? Shouldn't I be able to open it for review?
- (2018-02-12, v:1.5.8) Anthony Tedesco: ok how do I make this thing work.
Ok. I added the extension. I am logged into facebook. How do I make this work. Where do I see the results? A short blurb on how to work it would be useful
- (2018-02-05, v:1.5.8) Cameron MacLeod: Provide an undo!
I clicked too fast and mis-filed one. Showing my ratings somewhere so I can fix it would be helpful.
- (2018-02-02, v:1.5.7) Luci Temple: Version for mobile?
Facebook Political Ad Collector is great on Chrome. However I have noticed that the ads that I really want to report seem to mostly advertise to mobile phone users only rather than browser based. Is there a way to capture these for addition to your database? PS: love the updates now include more of the ad to help us judge it :)
- (2017-12-26, v:1.5.2) Richard Hughes: Edge cases - Political or no?
There are some edge-cases I'm not sure how to judge, e.g., ads for charities with arguably political causes, or ads for facebook groups with a political slant. Can you include a more precise definition of what makes an ad 'political' or not?
- (2017-11-11, v:1.4.2) Breaks Chrome startup settings
Breaks Chrome startup settings causing previous browsing session tabs to be loaded on startup despite settings in Chrome not to. Disabled this extension and the problem stopped.
- (2017-11-08, v:1.4.0) what is political
I follow several organizations I support so they show up on my feed. Many of these are marked as ads but i see them as newsletters. So in some cases i may mark say the Sierra Club as political if they ask me to sign a petition, but others are just information. So can an organization be both regular ad and political ad? Especially if i have opted in to see their posts? Seems like there should be a third category somehow that covers grey areas. .
- (2017-10-21, v:1.3.1) Luci Temple: Make it easier to see ad
I would suggest that the ProPublica dropdown panel (where we report the ads) would be improved if there was either more of the ad pulled into the view for us to read and evaluate or a way of clicking though to the whole ad for double checking. At the moment the tiny screenshot and only a few words aren't always clear what an ad is about, and we have not always noticed the ad in our main stream. Otherwise, I am sometimes having to make a guess whether it is political or normal. Thanks.