What's Super PAC App?
Created for the 2012 U.S. presidential election, it's an iPhone app that allows users to find out more information on presidential TV ads, by simply holding up their phone to the ad while it's playing.
Following the November 6, 2012 election, the app’s data and source code was released on superpacapp.org. This is an opportunity to take a look at what we did, as well as explore one the largest data sets of users rating presidential ads.
What exactly is a Super PAC again?
Super PACs are political action committees (see the acronym?) that can raise and spend unlimited funds on political races. Legally, they can't coordinate with a candidate. Super PACs are new to the 2012 presidential race as the result of two federal court rulings in 2010; the Supreme Court decision in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission and the Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit decision in SpeechNow.org v. Federal Election Commission.
The term Super PAC has also emerged as a short hand for political organizations with lots of money behind them.
How does the app work?
Super PAC App uses audio recognition technology, powered by TuneSat, to identify the audio from the ad. Now that the 2012 election is over, the audio recognition is no longer an active feature in the app.
Which ads does it track?
Super PAC App can be used with any presidential TV ad, including ads from the campaigns and other organizations.
Does it work on radio?
We are currently not tracking Super PAC ads that are broadcast on the radio.
Why are there no results for an ad I just watched?
Houston, we have a problem. And it's for one of two reasons.
You may not have given us enough of a chance to identify the audio. Super PAC App typically requires about 12 seconds of an audio sample, though it can be longer on slower Internet connections. Or, we may not have the ad in our database yet. If that's the case, rest assured we're tracking it down and it will be there real soon. But we'd also love your help (see next question).
If you’re trying to tag an ad after the 2012 election, the audio recognition is no longer an active feature in the app.
How can I notify you of a new presidential ad in my area?
Please fill out the contact form on our website, and note any information you think will help us track down the ad (your city, content of the ad, anything). Thanks for helping us out!
Why is money spent sometimes larger than money raised? And how can money raised ever be $0?
An organization has to file "money raised" with the Federal Election Commission (FEC) every quarter. It has to file media buys, or "money spent", within 24-48 hours of making the expenditure. So "money raised" is a number locked in time, while "money spent" is a number updated more frequently. An organization that says it's raised $0 but spent more than $0 has raised money after it originally filed with the FEC.
What is happening on your map screen?
The map feature in the Happening Now section allows users to see where ads are being rated in real time. It’s a fun way to see how others in the community feel about ads as they are rating them.
Are you able to see where I live?
Since we don’t ask for a login or email address, we are not collecting or storing any personal data. When you rate an ad, your location is pinned in the middle of a blue circle that goes near your location. If you rate an ad from your home, the pin on the map will be close to that address, based on your current location provided by the GPS device on your phone.
How can I stop sharing my location?
Just go to Location Services in Settings. On iOS6: Settings > General > Privacy > Location Services and scroll down until you see Super PAC App and click Off.
How much does the app cost?
One million dollars. Update to business plan: it's free! Download Super PAC App in the App Store.
How did you come up with the idea?
Co-founders Dan and Jennifer met in a Social Television class at MIT. They developed the original idea as a class project, as a way for viewers to easily learn more about the political TV ads coming at them during the 2012 presidential campaign. Along the way, the small class project turned into their final class project, which turned into Super PAC App upon graduation.
What are your political beliefs?
We believe in transparency and easy access to trustworthy information. Whether you lean right, left, up, or down this app's for you.
I have a technical problem or support issue I need resolved, who do I email?
Email support (AT) glassymedia.com or fill out the contact form on our website, and we'll get back to you as soon as possible.
Now that the election is done, what’s next?
Stay tuned to glassymedia.com to find out. Thanks for your interest!