It's election year, and if you haven't seen them already, be prepared to face a barrage of political ads, plastered all over your TV, computer and smartphone screens.
This year, political ad spending is expected to reach the billions, and that's despite the fact that most Americans don't know what to believe, or whom to trust with these ads, especially negative and attack ads. In fact, you're better off using this presidential candidate comparison tool for an introduction to the candidates.
Luckily, a brand new venture from the always-helpful Internet Archive just launched its brand new Political TV Ad Archive on Friday. The program tracks political ad campaigns and lets you watch video of every ad aired, get information on where and when the ads aired, who paid for them, and who was the target of most ads.
The Archive will also be valuable tool for journalists, anchors and reporters, providing the media with hidden information and contextual data about the ads. This way, reporters will have the ability to "stop the spin cycle" and provide voters with otherwise missing information, such as "which ads contain the most egregious truth stretching or full-on lies."
So far, the project has uncovered several examples of candidates, from all sides of the spectrum, that have stretched the truth, misinterpreted reports, or simply, just got it wrong.
For example, it was uncovered that Donald Trump used footage misidentifying Moroccan refugees as illegal Mexican immigrants and Hillary Clinton was busted using inaccurate figures about drug prices.
And that's just the beginning. Key figures behind the project, including executives from FactCheck.org, Politifact, The Washington Post's Fact Checker and National Press Club Journalism Institute, have gone through more than 100,000 hours of broadcast coverage and have already archived more than 30,000 ads.
By making this information readily available, Internet Archive founder, Brewster Kahle hopes to help the voters make the most informed decision possible. “We’re creating this library of political ads so that voters have some control over the messages that politicians and outside groups pile on at election time,” he said in a blog post.
Could this be a game-changer for political ads? We will just have to wait and see. In the meantime, explore the site for yourself and see what you can dig up.