New App is Like Shazam for Political Ads

Shazam—and its cousin Soundhound—have found their way onto many people’s phones because of their valuable service: they identify the musician behind that song that you hear in public or on the radio and just can’t place the name. Now the Sunlight Foundation, one of the leading U.S. accountability and transparency watchdogs, has done the same for political ads.

Following in the footsteps of their previous initiatives to bring more transparency and openness to the US government in the digital age, their new app, Ad Hawk, will identify the audio portions of a political ad. Taking that information, it will pull up information on the sponsors behind the ad and links to news about that group. It will also tell you where the ad is airing and the financial information of that group.

Operating on open source audio technology, workers at the Sunlight Foundation must continually work to upload new ads to their database. With YouTube significantly reducing the hurdles to getting an aid to “air,” this will be a challenge. Also, pulling out your app in time before the often :30 advertisements finish will be something of a race. Nevertheless, the app’s database currently has over 2,000 political spots.

Check out their slightly corny ad below, and download in the iTunes App Store or Google Play.


National Journal

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