New Trends in PR: Risks and challenges of political advertising

This Monday, our Public Relations and Digital Marketing students listened to an exciting guest lecture by Dr. Julian Jaursch. In Prof. Dr. Kim Murphy's course "New Trends in PR" he talked about the risks of online political advertising in election campaigns.

Jaursch ist project director of “Policy | Platform regulation” at the Stiftung Neue Verantwortung, a Berlin based non-profit think tank working on current political and societal challenges posed by digital technologies. In his lecture he shared insights into his research on the risks and regulation of online political advertising.

The topic of disinformation and the regulation of targeted political ads on platforms like Facebook, Google, Instagram and YouTube is just as important now as it was back in 2016 following Donald Trump's election. The targeting of social ads is very often based on algorithms which might be problematic in the light of political campaigns such as elections. Microtargeting can distort political debates, lead to the deepening of political and social rifts, and can increase discrimination.

According to Dr. Jaursch, stricter data protection laws are necessary in order to limit the extent of the personal data used for ad targeting. Measures, such as the Digital Services Act, which is currently being debated at the EU level, may be a good start in trying to create a safer digital space in which the fundamental rights of all users of digital services are protected. Beyond that, more monitoring tools like the Facebook Ad Library and Google's Transparency Report should be improved, and also developed for other social media platforms to ensure more transparency.

Many thanks to Dr. Julian Jaursch for the fascinating insights into this important issue.