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Monday, September 26, 2016

by Lois Beckett, ProPublica

Lauren Berns was browsing Talking Points Memo when he saw an ad with President Obama’s face. “Stop the Reckless Spending,” the ad read, and in smaller print, “Paid for by Crossroads GPS.” Berns was surprised. Why was Crossroads GPS, a group that powerful Republican strategist Karl Rove helped found, advertising on a liberal-leaning political website?

Looking closely at the ad, Berns saw a small blue triangle in the upper-left hand corner. He knew what that meant: this ad wasn’t being shown to every person who read that page. It was being targeted to him in particular. Tax-exempt groups like Crossroads GPS have become among the biggest players in this year’s election.  They’re often called “dark money” groups, because they can raise accept unlimited amounts of money and never have to disclose their donors.

These groups are spending massively on television spots attacking different candidates. These ads are often highly publicized and get plenty of media attention.

But these same dark money groups are also quietly expanding their online advertising efforts, using sophisticated targeting tactics to send their ads to specific kinds of people.

Who they’re targeting, and what data they’re using, is secret.

Online advertising companies have amassed vast quantities of information on what individual people read, watch, and do on the Internet. They collect this data using small files called cookies, which allows them to track Internet users as they move from site to site.

These anonymous profiles of information are used to customize advertisements — like sending casino ads to someone who just bought a plane ticket to Vegas.

But these profiles are also increasingly used by political groups, which can decide which people to target with a message — and which people to avoid — based on the kinds of articles they read and the kinds of sites they visit.

Many Internet users who see these ads may not be aware they’re being targeted.

As we’ve detailed, both the Romney and Obama campaigns are using advanced tracking and targeting tactics. Working with our readers, we found two examples of dark money groups using this kind of targeting, as well: one ad from Crossroads GPS and one ad from Americans for Prosperity, a nonprofit linked to the politically influential Koch brothers.

How many of these ads are dark money groups sending out? It’s hard to say, because it’s not easy to track exactly how much Crossroads, Americans for Prosperity, and similar groups are spending on different kinds of advertising.

But these politically influential organizations are moving more of their efforts online.

  • bcarreiro

    thats invasion of privacy

  • I agree

  • ObozoMustGo

    Hey Memo… can I ask you guys a favor? Could you please stop including that ugly dude, Rachel Madcow, in the adverts with your emails? I just about puke on my keyboard everytime I see him. Even the avowed and openly admitted socialist, Ed Schultz, is better than Madcow.

    Thanks for your help.

    Have a nice day!

    • Hey Memo… can I ask you guys a favor? Could you delete posts that are not germane and only purpose is to denigrate another person?

      I can deal with ill informed and inarticulate but I just about regurgitate on my keyboard over hatefullness.

      Thanks for your help. Have a nice day!

      • ObozoMustGo

        Joan…. excellent response! Very funny… thank you for the chuckle. 😉

        Have a nice day!

        • I am a Viet Nam Vet, And I servied with the 190th AHC, of the 145th CABVA. My name is listed amoung others in BAL HISTORY Post Tet 1968 , I Left End of Feb 1969. Rommey amoung Others, Ran to Other Countries that would hide them. Bush Put us in 2 Wars we did not need, Did not even Pay for the WARS. You all don’t pay your fair share of the Taxes to Keep our COUNTRY #1 Can Leave and hid you and your MONEY IN CHINA OR RUSSIA. We will BE MUCH BETTER WITHOUT,, And The TROOPS COMEING BACK NEED TO BE TAKEN CARE OF , THEY DID WAY MORE THAN WHAT SHOULD HAVE BEEN ASK OF THEM. MOST OF US COULD NOT DO WHAT THEY DO EVERY DAY. GOD BLESS ALL OUR TROOPS. People And our Country.

          • ObozoMustGo

            God bless you, Ron! Thank you from the bottom of my heart for your service to America. I am sorry for how you and your brothers in arms that came home were treated, though I was just a small child then and didn’t know anything about it.

            I am curious, though, Ron. How is it that a guy who served America in Viet Nam is now aligned with the likes of Hanoi Jane Fonda who betrayed you guys as a traitor? How is it that you align with the party that has been taken over by the very radicals that spat upon you and your brothers when you came home? You’re the first I’ve had the honor to meet who seems to be aligned with the leftists, so I am very curious to know your answers if you will be gracious enough to provide them.

            Thank you again, for your service to America. We are the land of the free BECAUSE of the brave like you.

            A virtual SALUTE to you, Sir!

        • dtgraham

          Obozo, there was absolutely nothing excellent or funny about Joan’s post. I do think that you should be able to run down Maddow, as I should be able to run down Anne Coulter, although Coulter gives everyone about 100 times the ammo that Rachel Maddow gives anyone.

          Rachel is an Oxford scholar, open minded, funny, and tolerant (towards even conservatives). I don’t see any of that in Coulter. If you honestly feel that “Madcow” is so ugly that “he” causes you to puke on your keyboard, then why would a very simple defense of Maddow cause you to suddenly respond that it’s an excellent post and very funny. That makes no sense.

          • ObozoMustGo

            dt… she was poking fun at me and I thought it was funny. That’s all. Besides, my origingal post was just a firecracker thrown into the leftist nutjob hornets’ nest. That’s all.

            Have a nice day!

      • Crossroads GPS founded by Karl Rove is a shodow organization receiving funds for its false ads from the Chinese communist and the Russian communist and other middle east contries. Report these ads to the FBI and demand the arrest of Rove for un-American activity.

    • Crossroads GPS founded by Karl Rove is a shodow organization receiving funds for its false ads from the Chinese communist and the Russian communist and other middle east contries. Report these ads to the FBI and demand the arrest of Rove for un-American activity.

      • ObozoMustGo

        uhhh… keith.. I hope you didn’t get your tin foil hat all rumpled typing that post.

        Now go back to your crack pipe. It’s calling you. Can you hear it?

        Have a nice high!

    • citizenmb

      Ugly is in the eye of the beholder, and believe me, “ObozoMustGo,” you are a seriously ugly person, no matter how you look.

    • Go crawl back under the rock you crawled out from to make that comment. You are worse than pond scum and its fungus.

    • William Deutschlander

      Hey obozomustgo, did you ever hear of free speech, you know it is that wonder that corporations and people have been granted.
      Do not forget to THANK PRESIDENT OBAMA and his administration for saving our U S A and the World from an ECONOMIC TRAGEDY that you and your compatriots ignorantly brought on our nation and world.
      Remember that the 1930 Depression, the horrid 1981 Recession and the Great Recession of 2008 have ALL been on the CONSERVATIVE watch.
      Bear in mind that 13 trillion of the 17 trillion National Debt was taken on during the CONSERVATIVE watch.
      Sorry but the TRUTH PREVAILS.

      • ObozoMustGo

        Once again, Nazi Bill, you are experiencing delusions of adequacy!

        You’re numbers are all wrong. Look at the US Treasury web site for the facts about what the debt was by year. You will see that in 8 years, Bush added about $4.5T to a little over $10T. And most of that was in the last 2 years with DemocRAT controll of Congress. Obozo has added $5.5TRILLION and growing since he stepped in, with annual deficits averaging nearly $1.5 TRILLION per year. This is Obozo’s doing, not anyone elses.

        You can go back to your crack pipe now, Nazi Bill.

        Have a nice day!

  • Crossroads GPS founded by Karl Rove is a shodow organization receiving funds for its false ads from the Chinese communist and the Russian communist and other middle east contries. Report these ads to the FBI and demand the arrest of Rove for un-American activity.

  • jebediah123

    To Obozo must go—–I would like to meet you personally. Can you arrange a meeting using this media? I’ll be glad to meet you if you are within 250 miles of Chicago.
    Thanks, Jebediah

  • William Deutschlander

    Rove is the lowest of the low, he is the slime that is at the bottom of the slime.

    Rove is a grave danger to Democracy and the U S A.

  • I really don’t care who tracks me. Knock yourself out. I stand for old fashioned values and definitely I am a Christian and Bible believing individual. If an unbeliever tracks me and my sites and what I comment on, they just might end up being a born again Christian like me. Praise God from whom all blessings flow! Amen.

  • He who dwelleth in the secret place of the most high God shall abide under the shadow of the almighty, I will say to the Lord, thou art my refuge my fortress my God in thee shall I put my trust. Surely thou shall deliver me from the fowler and the noisome pestilence, thou shall cover me with thy feathers and under neath thy wings shall I put my trust. Thy truth shall be my shield and buckler. I shall not be afraid of the terror by night, nor of the arrow that flieth by day. Nor for the pestilence that walketh in darkeness or the destruction that wasteth at noonday. A thousand shall fall at my side and ten thousand at my right hand but it shall not come by me. Only with my eyes shall I see and behold the reward of the wicked. Because I have made the Lord, even the most my habitation, therefore shall no evil befall me, nor any plague come near my dwelling. This is recited from the Holy Bible, Psalm 91. I believe it. Track away. You just might become born again Christian like me.

  • spending on isp,anti-virus and spend time PC fix to read articles like above where hidden companies are following our tracking habits online like the telemarketing by phone of many examples doing dark money on internet costumers it not great idea to whom believe internet is a good option to every internet of each household costumers.

  • maybe companies and groups of any kind hire company’s called “3rd company’s” to have records and see what people like online or spending credit cards activities for strategic election parties like articles of “Facebook vs Google”.

  • I still don’t understand why Karl Rove isn’t in jail!