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

featured image via

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.

Before you go! Autostraddle runs on the reader support of our AF+ Members. If this article meant something to you today — if it informed you or made you smile or feel seen, will you consider joining AF and supporting the people who make this queer media site possible?

Join AF+!

A.E. Osworth

A.E. Osworth is part-time Faculty at The New School, where they teach undergraduates the art of digital storytelling. Their novel, We Are Watching Eliza Bright, about a game developer dealing with harassment (and narrated collectively by a fictional subreddit), is forthcoming from Grand Central Publishing (April 2021) and is available for pre-order now. They have an eight-year freelancing career and you can find their work on Autostraddle (where they used to be the Geekery Editor), Guernica, Quartz, Electric Lit, Paper Darts, Mashable, and drDoctor, among others.

A.E. has written 542 articles for us.


    • I’m so glad you think so! I felt like such a nerd-face when I got so excited about it. :0)

      • I mean, you aren’t not a nerd-face for being excited about it, but that’s the best kind of face to be, so. :)

  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.

    • And I don’t say that to be mean.

      Just… I think a lot of some of the more wildly extremist stuff that features in American politics would lose its momentum with a bit more of the critical-thinking activity…

    • Bahahahahahahaha.


      But I’d like to think a few of us have some mad critical thinking skillz.

      • *begins lobbying Congress to limit vote to critical-thinking Autostraddlers. Three minutes later falls off chair under weight of own hypocrisy, having realised the civil-rights dilemma this poses.*

  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.)

  3. The only problem with this app that I would have to actually have the volume on while the ad aired.

  4. Disclaimer – All internet product made with: slave labour, child labour, conflict minerals, priviledged americans, stolen ideas, etc. … <3 Ad Hawk.

Comments are closed.