Political Microtargeting Exposed: A Systemic Approach to Public Accountability




Dr. Jef Ausloos is a postdoctoral researcher at the Faculty of Law’s Institute forInformationLaw (IViR) and part of the ICDS initiative. His current research largely centers around transparency questions in the digital environment.

Dr. Stefania Milan is Associate Professor of New Media and Digital Culture at the University of Amsterdam.Her research explores the interplay between digital technology and participation, and activism and social movements in particular, cyberspace governance, and data epistemologies.

Dr. Tom Dobber is a postdoctoral researcher at the University of Amsterdam, research institute ASCoR, and his research focuses on political microtargeting.

Project Description

Political parties increasingly rely on persuasive advertisement techniques such as microtargeting via social media platforms. A highly opaque industry has emerged specializing in large-scale data processing and the development of AI techniques feeding into psychographic profiles and advertisement strategies. This is especially problematic within fragile political contexts such as elections where clear legal safeguards are still lacking. This project cracks open this “black box” rendering the political microtargeting (PMT) industry more transparent. To this end, it will pilot a novel interdisciplinary methodology able to a) understand what data are gathered on voters, by whom and why, and b) how these data are mobilised on social media platforms to influence political preferences.