The Australian Ad Observatory project is investigating how Facebook advertising targets Australians online.
There is a lot of speculation about how Facebook decides what ads you see. While they have provided some transparency via the Facebook Ad Library, this offers significantly limited information, is not independently verified, and removes inactive ads from its public database. The lack of information on algorithmically targeted advertising practices means that we have few ways of knowing if there are breaches of advertising codes of practice, or other potentially problematic activities occurring.
This project is seeking participants to install an extension on their web browser that collects all the ads they see when they go on Facebook. The extension only collects the ads (which are identified as “sponsored” content). It does not collect any personal information other than the demographic information supplied when installing the extension. Researchers want to find out what kinds of ads are being seen by Australian users and are aiming to achieve a much greater level of transparency and accountability through this crowdsourcing approach.
This project is being conducted by the ARC Centre of Excellence for Automated Decision-Making and Society.