Young woman using touch screen on the street

Public hackathon to reimagine online advertising accountability

Author Kathy Nickels
Date 8 August 2022

The Tech for Good: ADM+S Dark Ads Hackathon public to be held in Melbourne from 28 – 30 September provides an opportunity for participants to work with consumer rights organisations and academic experts to hack new ideas and concepts for ensuring better accountability for online advertising.

Participants will create conceptual designs and pitches that will contribute to new research into the ways that online advertising practices can be more transparent and social media companies accountable.

The event is being led by researchers from the Australian Research Council’s Centre of Excellence for Automated Decision-Making and Society (ADM+S) with support from Victorian Health Promotion Foundation, ABC, the consumer advocacy group CHOICE, the Consumer Policy Research Centre (CPRC) and the Foundation for Alcohol Research and Education (FARE).

Professor Mark Andrejevic, researcher from the ADM+S and organiser of the hackathon, says that the problem of false, discriminatory, and predatory advertising online is a serious one that requires innovative strategies for providing transparency and accountability.

“The aim of the Dark Ads Hackathon is to involve participants not just from coding and tech backgrounds but also from social sciences and humanities.

“We need to a multi-disciplinary approach to develop some measure of accountability for online targeted advertising” said Professor Andrejevic

A panel of consumer rights and industry experts will inspire participants to ideate new approaches to better online advertising. Speakers include:

  • Kate Bower, Consumer Data Advocate (CHOICE)
  • Dr Aimee Brownbill, Senior Policy and Research Advisor, Foundation for Alcohol Research and Education (FARE)
  • Dr Laura Edelson, Postdoctoral Researcher, New York University
  • Simon Elvery, Journalist and Developer at ABC News Story Lab, ABC
  • Samuel Kininmonth, Policy Officer, Australian Communications Consumer Action Network (ACCAN)
  • Lilly Ryan – Lead Security Specialist at Thoughtworks
  • Erin Turner – Chief Executive Officer, Consumer Policy Research Centre (CPRC)
  • Lucy Westerman – Commercial Determinants of Health Lead, VicHealth

Dr Laura Edelson postdoctoral researcher with Cybersecurity for Democracy at New York University, will be speaking at the event.

Dr Edelson says “One thing we know – there is a lot of problems, we know that there are consumer scams, we know there is discriminatory delivery and targeting, there’s misinformation, there’s wilful disinformation.”

“The most important step we can take right now is more transparency so that more researchers can actually work on this problem.”

Participants will be guided by industry and academic mentors through ideation and design methods and will be provided with the resources, data and tools to work with.

Expressions of interest are open until 31 August for people interested in ethics by design, privacy and public accountability for commercial institutions.

For further information and registration visit the Tech for Good, ADM+S Dark Ads Hackathon webpage.