Cybersecurity for Democracy

Cybersecurity for Democracy is a research-based effort to expose online threats to our social fabric – and recommend how to counter them. We are part of the Center for Cybersecurity at NYU.

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In the afternoon of January 6, 2021, Facebook leadership announced they were “appalled by the violence at the Capitol today,” and were approaching the situation “as an emergency.”

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Lab notebook: our new approach to topic modeling will help us identify themes in digital political ads more efficiently. Replicating tools like Ad Observatory ( across countries and multiple languages will become easier.

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An investigation by Global Witness and the Cybersecurity for Democracy (C4D) team at NYU looked at Facebook, TikTok, and Youtube's ability to detect and remove election disinformation in the run-up to the U.S. midterm elections. The results? TikTok approved 90% of the election disinformation ads tested, Facebook had a mixed record. Only YouTube succeeded both in detecting the ads and suspending the channel carrying them.

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Ad Observatory

A new, enhanced version of Ad Observatory is now available in English and Spanish. Search digital political ad spending across Meta properties with our public, free dashboard.

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Help out by contributing your Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube ads by installing the Ad Observer plug-in tool. Now in Spanish!


Recent Posts

Roundup of Republican Presidential Candidate Digital Spending

DeSantis and Trump lead the field in spending while political outsiders try to build name recognition The recent flurry of campaign announcements solidified the major contenders in the 2024 Republican primary race. With the initial Republican field set, the Cybersecurity for…

Five takeaways on Trump’s 2020 Facebook ad strategy

Will Trump follow a similar playbook in the 2024 presidential race? With Meta’s announcement last month that it would allow former President Donald Trump back on the platform, we dug into Ad Observatory data to remember what made Trump’s ad strategy on Facebook and Instagram…

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