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Durham University

The Department of Philosophy


Publication details for Dr Joe Saunders

Saunders, Joe (2020). Dark Advertising and the Democratic Process. In Big Data and Democracy. Macnish, Kevin & Galliott, Jai Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press.

Author(s) from Durham


Political advertising is changing. This chapter considers some of the implications of this for the democratic process. I begin with recent reports of online political advertising. From this, two related concerns emerge. The first is that online political advertisements sometimes occur in the dark, and the second is that they can involve sending different messages to different groups. I consider these issues in turn. This involves an extended discussion of the importance of publicity and discussion in democracy, and a comparison between dog whistles and dark advertisements. Through this, I look to outline some of the ways in which online political advertisements can undermine the democratic process.