Ad Hawk Tells You Who Paid for That Political Ad, Makes You An Extra Informed Voter

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Ali’s Team Pick:

Ad Hawk is an app that will listen to a political ad on the radio, on TV, even on YouTube and it will identify the ad and tell you who paid to make it happen. It’s like Shazam for politics. And what with the Citizens United Supreme Court decision that lets corporations (and whoever, really) spend unlimited amounts of money in campaign donations for just such media blitzes, this app is pretty necessary to be an informed voter this election season. That thing is telling Hispanic voters that Romney is on their side? Well, who paid for it? And why are they lying?

I tried it out, and while it didn’t get every ad I searched on YouTube, it got most of them. And there are great visuals at the bottom for how much the responsible super pac has spent in either the Republican or Democrat direction, and also in the negative ads versus positive ad direction.

Ready for exactly how much your vote is worth? The answer is often more than six figures. via

Made by the Sunlight Foundation, a non-partisan non-profit organization dedicated to making government more transparent and therefore more accountable, this app is free. Free, I tell you! And they also make these other great apps: Real Time Congress, which brings you live updates from the House and Senate floor, and Open States, which tells you what bills they’re voting on in your state capitol.


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Profile gravatar of A.E. Osworth

Staff Writer for Autostraddle, Part-time Faculty at The New School (teaching digital storytelling), Managing Editor for Scholar & Feminist Online at Barnard Center for Research On Women. Follow me on Twitter @AEOsworth or on Instagram, also @AEOsworth.

A.E. has written 517 articles for us.


  1. One problem. Using this still requires critical-thinking skills. (‘If American Crossroads paid for that… should I believe this message…?’)

    I have a horrible suspicion many of the voting public will not make the connection.

  2. You guys, I’m so excited to geek out with this app. It’s downloaded and ready to be whipped out as a fun party trick. (Luckily, I’m mostly friends with fellow insufferable political nerds.)

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