What are micro-targeted political ads?
Political candidates can harness micro-targeted ad tools to send messages to a small slice of the electorate by selecting from a wide array of targeting options and user interests.
For example, a candidate can target two audiences of voters in a specific city: one group who have “some high school education,” are unemployed, and are interested in gambling; and another group who are high earning college grads, with a new job, who are interested in luxury goods.
Why they're a problem
We need a shared understanding of what candidates and parties stand for to have constructive, honest political debate and fair electoral campaigns. But the highly tailored messages in micro-targeted ads can result in completely different understandings of who the candidates are and what they believe. And when these ads are only seen by a handful of people, their claims are nearly impossible to challenge or fact-check.
By erasing the shared experience of democracy with contradictory — and oftentimes misleading messages — micro-targeted ads threaten the integrity of our elections.