Making the Invisible Visible: Introducing PoliDashboard v2 – An App For Tracking Political Ads on Meta’s Advertising Platforms

We are thrilled to announce the release of PoliDashboard v2 – an open-source app for tracking political advertisements on Facebook, Instagram, and other advertising platforms owned by Meta. 

PoliDashboard is developed by the Social Media Lab at Toronto Metropolitan University as part of an international election transparency initiative. It is designed to help voters, journalists, campaign staffers, and others track the use of targeted ads around social issues, elections, or politics.

The app’s primary purpose is to help make paid online political advertising on Meta’s platforms more transparent and resistant to both foreign and domestic manipulation. In addition, it can also be used as a tool to detect financial and other types of fraudulent activities on Meta’s advertising platforms.

PoliDashboard is unique among Meta-centric political ad dashboards. It is the only app that provides users with a bird’s eye view in near-real-time of when and how an advertiser, such as a political party or lobbying group, spends their ad budget on Meta platforms and whom they are targeting. 

The data for the app comes from the Meta Ad Library API, which is processed and updated daily. Country-specific dashboards are presented in partnership with select academic and civic partners in countries where the Meta Ad Library is available. 

New Countries Added

New for 2024, we have added seven new countries to the app, bringing the total to 14. A few of the newly added countries are some of the largest democracies in the world, including India and Indonesia. More countries will be added in the future as additional resources become available. Click on any of the countries listed below to view the country-specific dashboard. 

1. Australia8. Indonesia (New)
2. Brazil9. Italy (New)
3. Canada10. Philippines (New)
4. Denmark11. Poland (New)
5. France (New)12. Spain (New)
6. Germany13. United Kingdom
7. India (New)14. United States

New Features Added

PoliDashboard consists of seven data modules. The main landing module shows the most active advertisers currently running ads about social issues, elections, or politics across Meta’s platforms and technologies for the selected date range. 

When a user clicks on any of the advertisers listed, an additional 6 data modules open up. These modules can be used to answer questions such as:

  • What Facebook page(s) they are funding (Module 1)
  • What ads they are running (Module 4 & 6)
  • How much money they are spending on ads per Facebook page (Module 1)
  • How many ads they are running each day (Module 2)
  • Where geographically their ads are being shown (Module 3)
  • What demographic groups they are targeting (Module 4)
  • What is being said in their ads (Module 5 & 6)

What’s Ahead and How You Can Get Involved

In the coming months, we will be working with our colleagues at the Digital Media Research Centre at Queensland University of Technology to add new features. If you have any questions or are interested in collaborating with us on a dashboard for your country, please contact us via info[at]socialmedialab.ca or visit the project’s GitHub page. 


About the Social Media Lab

The Social Media Lab is a multi- and interdisciplinary research laboratory at Ted Rogers School of Management at Toronto Metropolitan University. The Lab studies how social media is changing how people and organizations communicate, share information, conduct business, and form communities, and how these changes impact society. The broad aim of the Lab’s research initiatives is to advance the public’s understanding of the benefits and pitfalls of social media adoption with a focus on combating and managing the spread of misinformation and disinformation. 

The Social Media Lab was established in 2010 and is the first of its kind in North America. It is led by co-directors, Anatoliy Gruzd (PhD) and Philip Mai (JD). The lab is internationally recognized and attracts a diverse range of outstanding multidisciplinary scholars from around the world each year. It is a leader in social media studies and is the convener of the International Conference on Social Media and Society (#SMSociety). 

In addition to conducting original empirical research and producing public reports around matters of public interest, the Social Media Lab also develops research apps, tools, and information dashboards to support social science research on online participation. Some of the Lab’s research tools and apps such as Communalytic and PoliDashboard are used by thousands of students, educators, researchers, and journalists worldwide each year. In recent years, the Lab has also developed the expertise to build and rapidly deploy information dashboards that can track online misinformation around fast-moving topics such as the COVID-19 Pandemic and the Russian-Ukraine War.