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In an effort to be more transparent, Snapchat released a political ads library, detailing who paid for what ads, along with their target demographic.
“At Snap we strive to create a safe, transparent, and trusted platform for our users. Our Political and Advocacy Ads Library is one of the many efforts we’ve taken in doing that. This gives the public an opportunity to find out details about all political and advocacy advertising running on our platform,” the Snap Political Ads Library landing page reads.
Snapchat released political ad data for 2018 and 2019 in the form of spreadsheets, accessible to the public. Some of the 2020 presidential candidates who have purchased political ads are President Donald Trump, Beto O’Rourke, Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), and Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.) Organizations like Planned Parenthood and Amnesty International have also purchased issue-based ads.
Snapchat’s ad policy requires that political ads contain “paid for by” disclaimer. Those who aren’t citizens or residents of the U.S. are banned from purchasing political ads. Humans with the company make sure every ad complies with these rules.
The majority of the ads bought are targeting young people, which makes sense as Snapchat is especially popular among 18- to 24-year-olds, according to the Pew Research Center.
And it’s not just U.S. politicians who are using Snapchat as a tool to mobilize young people. On Sept. 9, the U.K. government spent an equivalent of nearly $30,000 on a single Snapchat ad, promoting its “Get Ready For Brexit” campaign.
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Eilish O'Sullivan is an editorial intern for the Daily Dot studying journalism and government at the University of Texas at Austin. Her work has appeared in the Austin Chronicle and the Daily Texan.