In September 2022 The Tech for Good: ADM+S Dark Ads Hackathon 2.5 day event brought together over 40 participants from social science, humanities, and computer science to hack new ideas and methods for better transparency in online advertising.

The Hackathon was hosted by the ARC Centre of Excellence for Automated Decision-Making and Society (ADM+S) in collaboration with government representatives, consumer rights organisations who recognised an urgent need for better online advertising accountability following recent examples of price discriminiation, scam advertising and predatory targeting in online advertising spaces.

Hackathon participants worked with ADM+S Centre mentors using existing research and tools developed at the Centre through the Australian Ad Observatory with the aim of contributing to new ways that online advertising practices can be more transparent and social media companies accountable.

During the Hackathon participants were invited to come up with ideas and approaches for providing public accountability for targeted advertising online.


Over 2.5 days six teams developed ideas to better online advertising transparency and accountability. Participants retained intellectual property ownership of the designs they produced through their participation in the hackathon, along with their co-creators. The hackathon had an open-source policy in the spirit of promoting online advertising accountability.

Designs, concepts, and codes created during the hackathon are publicly available here with a Creative Commons attribution licence, so that others can distribute, remix, adapt, and build upon the work, as long as the participants are credited as the original creators.



Targeted ads are visible only to those to whom they are directed, so how can we determine whether they are predatory, discriminatory, false or misleading? The problem of false, discriminatory, and predatory advertising online is a serious one.

While marketers may state that targeting ads enables precise marketing, dark advertising can create a serious issue when it comes to addictive and harmful products such as alcohol, gambling, or unhealthy foods.

There are plenty of examples available related to unethical targeted advertising, dark ads are capable of perpetuating gender bias, spreading false political agenda and even targeting racial or communal groups.

Find out how you are being targeted by online advertising and help researchers uncover harmful advertising practices, join the Australian Ad Observatory


If you are interested in collaborating on this research or speaking with this hackathon team contact adms@rmit.edu.au

This event was supported by representatives from ABC, VicHealth, Digital Rights Watch, ACCAN (The Australian Communications Consumer Action Network), CHOICE, CPRC (Consumer Policy Research Centre), and FARE (Foundation for Alcohol Research and Education).