The new Ad Observatory tool from @nyutandon is a great way to track political ad spending on Facebook. One of its best features is that it lets you monitor spending automatically with a range of different alerts. This thread will show you how.
Step 1: You'll need to sign up for an account at as email notifications are only available if you have registered. Luckily, this tool is free for journalists (including freelancers) and approval usually happens within a business day. Image
Step 2: State pages are a good place to start when browsing ideas for what notifications to set up. Clicking on individual races and top spenders shows more detail, like micro-targeting. Here's a comparison of ad spending from Congressional candidates in Florida’s 3rd district Image
Step 3: Set up your notifications. Click “notifications” at the top of the page and then “Add New.” Ad Observatory allows you to set up alerts for spending surges by topic, ad sponsor and much more. Alerts can be sent daily or weekly. Image
Here’s an example of what the email notifications look like. According to the alert, more than $107,000 has been poured into ads about the court system in Florida in the past week. Image
Any questions about the tool? Reach out to
For more tips on investigating Facebook ad spending, check out our webinar on how to use the Facebook Ad Library:…
Also our webinar on using the Facebook Ad Library is also available in Spanish:

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More from @firstdraftnews

2 Dec 20
In the wake of recent vaccine announcements, reporters and policymakers need to be tracking “data deficits” — situations where demand for information about a topic is high, but the supply of credible information is low. We outline two of them below. 🧵👇…
1. mRNA technology, DNA alteration and foreign propaganda narratives. mRNA vaccines’ novelty and technical complexity complicates efforts to provide accessible and compelling information on this technology, while the incentive for bad actors to exploit this gap is high.
2. Measures of vaccine “effectiveness,” trial stages’ “interim” results and other limitations of the vaccine announcements. Information detailing these limitations are often missing from reporting, which could erode public confidence in Covid-19 vaccines.
Read 4 tweets
2 Dec 20
Today the UK became the first Western country to approve a Covid-19 vaccine. Following this and other recent vaccine trial and approval announcements, here are five misinformation narratives reporters should be aware of when covering these stories. 🧵👇…
1. A Covid-19 vaccine is unnecessary; the immune system is superior. This narrative is now comparing Covid-19 survival rates to the efficacy rates of the current vaccines to suggest that our immune systems are more capable than vaccines in protecting us from Covid-19.
The narrative that hydroxychloroquine’s effectiveness eliminates the need for a Covid-19 vaccine, highly popular among many Francophone communities in Europe and Africa, has been applied to recent vaccine trial announcements.
Read 7 tweets
1 Dec 20
Next week, we’re hosting a series of discussions on the challenges of covering vaccine misinformation next year. We’re hosting one in English, one in French, and one in Spanish. Details below 👇
Join an essential discussion on misinformation on Weds 16 Dec, and get your questions answered. Register now:…
Rejoignez-nous pour une conversation essentielle le mercredi 9 décembre et trouvez des réponses à vos questions. Register now:…
Read 4 tweets
20 Nov 20
We are failing to provide the right information about the Covid-19 vaccine at the right time to the right people. Here are some suggestions for what we could do 👇 [thread]…
2/ Many false notions about vaccines, such as them altering DNA, being unnecessary because survival rates from Covid-19 are 99% (very misleading), or providing a "silver bullet" -- haven’t been sufficiently addressed
3/ Reporters, governments, and health bodies need to provide the information in an effective, compelling manner (such as with video and meme-based content)
Read 7 tweets
1 Oct 20
(THREAD) There’s been chatter about threat modeling based on a @jayrosen_nyu piece. Since Sept ‘19, we’ve run over 25 crisis simulations with more than 1k people working in the media, at platforms and organizations with great results. What we’ve learned…
1. People don’t know what they don’t know and what they’re not ready for. 2. Putting people from different newsrooms and platforms together is necessary for us to understand the dynamics of the information environment in real time.
3. Finding different ways to engage people on these issues is critical. As a participant said, “This has all the fun of a breaking news event, with none of the responsibility.” Journos love the adrenaline rush of a real-time scenario, particularly those put off by “training.”
Read 15 tweets
29 Sep 20
Between January and June, First Draft collected 9,722 fact checks about the coronavirus outbreak to find out what we could learn about misinformation. Here’s what we found (thread)…
On January 15, @rapplerdotcom debunked a social media claim that a case of SARS had been reported in Mandaluyong City, outside Manila. The article would be the first of many fact checks relating to the new coronavirus in 2020 according to our research…
With @GateAcUk, we attributed each fact check to one of nine categories defined by @risj_oxfor to capture the range of misleading or false claims made about the virus…
Read 8 tweets

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