What's Hiding in Your Social Media Feed?

"Dark ads" are pieces of paid content on social media platforms that are not explicitly labeled as paid.

What happens when your friend tags you in a post labeled to them as an advertisement, but not to you? What about when a social media influencer is sent free products in exchange for a post about the product, to be shared with their millions of followers?

It can be very difficult for users to understand when a piece of content has been paid for by an external influence.

  • Advertisers hypertarget thousands of variants of ads without proper disclosure. The Republican National Committee (RNC) has stated publicly that their organization routinely ran 40,000 to 50,000 variants of ads ahead of the October 2016 presidential debates.
  • According to NYU researchers, over half of Facebook pages from May 2018 until June 2019 that displayed U.S. political ads concealed the identities of their backers
  • Over $1.1 billion was spent on political ads on Facebook alone since May 2018

Our Solution

The Policy

Our policy briefs and draft regulation explaining how the Federal Election Commission and Federal Trade Commission can shine a light on dark ads.

The Game

Can you avoid being tricked by dark ads and disinformation?

The Tip Sheet

An easy to read, printable document to share with friends and family.

© 2020 The Nightlight Project. This project was created and incubated at the Aspen Institute Tech Policy Hub