This election cycle, much of the advertising we see and hear on TV and radio lacks the familiar “I’m so-and-so and I approve this message” tag line. Ads paid for by super PACs and other outside groups not affiliated with official campaigns may flash a logo, but with names as general and meaningless as “Restore Our Future,” “Winning Our Future,” and “Priorities USA,” it’s hard to know who’s really behind them and what they stand for.
Two new smart phone apps released this week put that information in the palm of your hand. Download the Sunlight Foundation’s Ad Hawk or Glassy Media’s Super PAC App, and you can hold your phone up to the television during an attack ad to see a profile of the group that’s footing the bill. Both apps tell you how much the org has raised and spent; Ad Hawk also aggregates media reports on the group, while Super PAC App helps break down the claims made in the ad and lets users vote on their veracity. Both apps use technology similar to Shazam, the popular app for identifying music and both are available in iTunes; Ad Hawk is also available for Android at Google Play.