UQ sheds light on campaign spending trends

The social media spending trends of candidates seeking to secure votes in the upcoming Federal election will be highlighted by a data dashboard created by University of Queensland academics.

Experts in political and computer sciences have joined forces to build the UQ Election Ad Data Project to map and analyse data on Facebook election advertising during the 2022 campaign.

Project co-lead Associate Professor Gianluca Demartini from the School of Information Technology and Electrical Engineering said the dashboard would update every six hours, providing one of the most systematic analyses of Facebook advertising produced during an election campaign.

“The Project will shed light on spending, targeting and thematic trends by those seeking to shape perceptions during the election campaign,” Dr Demartini said.

“The initiative draws on classic and novel techniques in computer science so that citizens and the media can better understand the digital ecosystem of advertising on Facebook during the campaign.”

The Project was partly funded by a UQ Cyber Initiative grant and builds on four years of research by Dr Demartini and his research team.

Co-lead Dr Glenn Kefford from the School of Political Science and International Studies said the Project would make an important and timely contribution to public debate by tracking the social media spending of not just candidates but those seeking to influence the outcome of the election.

“The project is exciting because of the breadth of expertise involved, as well as the originality of the data and analysis,” Dr Kefford said.

“The dashboard, which contains an overview of the analysis, is only the starting point in terms of what we can produce.

“We are able to unpack the data at a level of granularity not seen previously in Australia.

“Our goal is to make important contributions to discussions about the role of digital campaigns, not only in terms of which organisations are spending money and where, but also what these patterns tell us about the nature of Australian democracy.”

The dashboard can be found here.

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