PROGRAM- DAY 2 Thursday 29 September

Morning (AM)


Light Breakfast including Tea and Coffee
Level 1 | Oxford Scholar | 427 Swanston St, Melbourne


The Power of Transparency for Election Advertising
Dr Laura Edelson (New York University)

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Research has consistently shown that citizens both want greater transparency
of all aspects of how parties and candidates contest elections and that greater
transparency actually shapes viewer’s perception of political ads that they see.
However the shift to digital advertising has increasingly made political ads less
transparent, not more. NYU’s Ad Observatory has, since 2020, sought to counter this trend by providing usable transparency of Meta Platforms’ political advertising.

In this talk, Laura will review her team’s journey to build Ad Observatory and the successes and lessons learned along the way. Laura will provide a technical overview of how our data collection, analysis, and web-facing tool operate, as well as review the legal and technical constraints under which of our project operates. She will also discuss how civil society organisations as well as journalists use Ad Observatory today, and some of the impacts their project has had on both public understanding of elections in the United States as well as of Facebook and Instagram.


Morning Tea


Hack Teams Session 02
Exploring data and tools. During this session we will revisit the available data, tools, and summarise key questions and prompts. The teams will have a chance to explore the dataset from the Ad Observatory project.


Presentation: The Twitter Ad Collector
Sara UyenTran (Monash University)

Sara will discuss and demo a tool she helped create that collects ads from Twitter accounts. This tool can be programmed to follow and engage with other designated accounts.

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Sara Uyen Tran presents information about the Twitter Ad Collector project. This project allowed researchers to track ads that appeared in Twitter feeds. Unlike the Facebook ad project, however, it didn’t rely on user data donation. Researchers created dummy accounts that could be set up to follow accounts with particular sets of characteristics and collected the resulting ads that appeared in the Twitter feed. The dashboard created through this project allows the ads to be sorted by accounts (“bots”), and also by the designated filters. There is room here to consider what additional filters might be added. There is also the possibility of creating new categories of accounts, and new dummy accounts.


All Teams Mentorship Session
This session will provide an opportunity to meet with representatives from the Hackathon partners including the Consumer Policy Research Centre, the Foundation for Alcohol Research and Education, VicHealth, and CHOICE. 

Afternoon (PM)




Presentation: The Google Bots project
Simon Schippl (Monash University)

Simon will discuss the Google Bot Ad Collector. This is a prototype tool for programming a bot to visit designated Web pages and collect the ads it encounters. The bot can also be programmed to conduct Google searches using designated search terms and collect the ads it encounters on the top 10 pages returned for each search.

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Simon Schippl discusses his work on the Google Bots project. This project explored how ads might be targeted to the Bots based on the search terms they used and the sites they visited. Researchers wanted to see if, for example, searching for politically coded terms like “Make America Great Again,” might yield particular types of ads. The project team created Google profiles and used them to search on designated search terms. The automated profiles collected ads from the top 10 sites yielded by the search. The team also programmed them to visit particular web sites (mainly left and right wing publications) to collect the ads they encountered on these sites.


Need2know presentation
Edmund Munday (Co-founder of


Hack Teams Session 03
Teams take this time to brainstorm and design ideas to compete in the Hackathon.  This session allows for main strategizing and working together as a team to produce a winning idea.


Afternoon Tea


Hack Team Session 04
Group work and idea finalisation. Teams will begin creating a pitch to be presented of their winning idea to showcase to the judges next day. Take this time to prioritise project design and details.


Lilly Ryan (Thoughtworks)

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People have been using technology to try to contact ghosts for over a hundred years, but now, for the first time, we are leaving behind seeds for a genuine digital afterlife. Trailing personal information in our wake every time we touch the Internet, it becomes increasingly possible to create a digital presence that will use these (and future) data points to respond and react to events after our deaths much as we might have in life.

We have already begun to build this reality, but we still need to ask some tough ethical questions about our digital ghosts. Are they technically ‘us’? Are they subject to the law? Who owns your digital remains after you die? Could a hacker spin up a doppelgänger to plague you in life? Could we donate our metadata to science as we can already donate our physical selves?

Outside of ‘Black Mirror’ episodes and art installations, the question of personal data and digital legacies is rarely seriously considered, and it leads to uncomfortable gaffes as digital services grapple with what to do when users die. This talk is a space to take stock of how the software we write today could be used in fifty years, and what design decisions we should make to ensure we can respect the wishes of the dead.


Day two concludes