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Tech for Tranparency

December 03, 2012

Regardless of your political beliefs, most of us will agree that being bombarded by partisan, often misleading, political advertising is no fun at all. The advent of Super-PACs has raised the FUD (Fear, Uncertainty, & Doubt) factor to new highs, but technology rises to meet needs and there are some great websites and apps to help you this campaign season. Super-PACs are the result of SpeechNow.org vs. Federal Election Committee which allowed for the creation of independent expenditure-only committees able to solicit unlimited funds from corporations, unions, associations and individuals and spend unlimited sums to advocate for or against political candidates. They cannot donate directly to the candidates and are required to report their donors to the FEC. APPS: Ad Hawk by the Sunlight Foundation and Super PAC by Glassy media are apps which can identify ads as they air and provide you with information about who is behind the ad. The Apps work on both TV & Radio ads and are a big step towards transparency. Ad Hawk App- http://adhawk.sunlightfoundation.com/ Super PAC App - http://www.superpacapp.org/ WEBSITES: For more information about the Super-PACs, check out the Super PACs pages at OpenSecrets.org [http://www.opensecrets.org/pacs/superpacs.php] and the Sunlight Foundation  [http://reporting.sunlightfoundation.com/outside-spending/.] The OpenSecrets page is very useful in that it lets you look at the largest contributing organizations to a Super-PAC on the donors page. With over 300 Million already spent on the campaign by PACs it is interesting to see which Super-PAC received $8.5 million from a Las Vegas casino! Once you know who is behind the political ads you have seen, it is nice to have a place to check the facts behind the statements they are making. FactCheck.org [http://www.factcheck.org/] and Politifact.com [http://www.politifact.com/] are both good places to look for the straight scoop amidst all the misleading, misreported, and out of context allegations. Both these sites have been accused of bias but are generally a good place to start digging for the truth. For the wilder theories you hear this election season, don't forget to check out Snopes.com [http://www.snopes.com/] which debunks a lot of the outrageous stories floating around the Internet.