(ProPublica) — “The tool, dubbed the Political Ad Collector, gathers ads from the Facebook feeds of any users who install it in their web browser, and identifies which ones are political. It has been installed by more than 3,000 people and is being used by journalists at 10 outlets in the U.S. and seven other countries.”

As the Australian government was conducting a national mail-in survey to gauge support for legislation legalizing same-sex marriage this fall, ads appeared on Facebook trying to sway specific groups of voters.

Opponents of gay marriage targeted people who, based on pages they liked and posts they had clicked on, were interested in “prayer” and “Christianity.” It is “a child’s right to be raised and loved by their married mother and father,” one video ad said. An advertiser who favors same-sex marriage pitched other users for whom “family” was a priority, contending that the legislation would help children “grow more securely, in less fear of the possibility that they could be different from others.”

Ordinarily, nobody would see these ads outside the groups they were aimed at. Though online ads are growing in influence, they’re typically short-lived and directed at a particular audience, making them hard for media outlets and other election observers to find, fact-check and investigate.

Click to continue reading. By Jennifer Valentino-DeVries – Feb. 8, 2018.

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