How To Find Political Campaign Ads on Social Media

Campaigns use social media to reach and connect with voters. Social media posts explain policy positions, spark dialog, prompt action, spread a candidate’s story and reasons for running for elected office, support marketing efforts on other channels, etc. Additionally, social media platforms offer political campaigns options for testing messaging and responding to other candidates and the media.

Verified US campaigns can also run political campaign ads targeting specific demographics on leading social media platforms. Even if a candidate isn’t running political ads, campaign staff should monitor advertising paid for by other race stakeholders. Voters can use the political campaign tools offered by Facebook and Twitter to further examine candidates, their policies, and possible discrepancies between what is said publicly versus what may not be readily apparent when looking at a candidate’s or group’s public feed / timeline. 

How to Find Political Campaign Ads on Facebook

You can find the current political campaign ads that a candidate, party, etc. may be running on Facebook using publicly available tools.

One approach is to use the Facebook Library Ad Report.

Another approach is the electoral and issue ads transparency tool, which launched in May, 2018.

To find the “Page Transparency” tool, visit a candidate’s Facebook page. In this example, the Facebook page for President Donald J. Trump’s political campaign is used.

On the right hand side, look for a box with the heading “Page Transparency.”

Page Transparency

Clicking the “See More” textual link opens up a pop-up.

Pop-up showing what happens when clicking on "Page Transparency" link on Facebook

In the pop-up, look for the Ads section.

Clicking the “View in Ad Library” link opens a new window showing dollars spent in the past year by the page, current and past ads, etc.

Additional detail can be obtained about individual ads by clicking on the textual “See Ad Details” link.

To learn more about the advertisers targeting you personally on Facebook, follow the steps outlined in this BuzzFeed article on targeted Facebook advertising.

How to Find Political Campaign Ads on Twitter

Like Facebook, Twitter offers an Ads Transparency Tool. Unlike Facebook, Twitter’s ad archive only shows ads from the last 7 days.

Twitter’s Ads’ Tool shows promoted tweets with additional formats to be available in the future.

The Ads Transparency Tool is separated into several areas. Options include viewing political campaign advertisers and issue advertisers, which includes ads referring to elections or candidates.

Twitter Transparency and Political Campaigning Advertiser List
Twitter Ads Transparency and Issue Advertisers List

Interested in seeing the ads leading 2020 Presidential Candidates are running online? We’ve included links to Facebook Ads in our listing of Where to Find 2020 Presidential Candidates Online.

Additional Resources

For an interactive look at how 2020 Presidential Campaigns are spending online, see Bully Pulpit Interactive’s 2020 Campaign Tracker or ACRONYM’s FWIW 2020 Data Dashboard Tracker. Another resource is ad.watch.

Additional Reading

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