LONDON — With days to go before the U.K. heads to the polls on December 12, all the traditional political parties — and lots of third-party groups — are doing all they can to woo would-be voters online.
So far, partisan groups have spent more than £2 million on digital campaigning ahead of Thursday’s vote, a figure that will likely exceed what was spent the last time the U.K. went to the polls in 2017.
After holding back somewhat in the first few weeks of the campaign, the Conservatives are now turning everything up to 11 with a major outlay on Facebook political ads in a rerun of the Leave campaign strategy ahead of the Brexit referendum in 2016.
In response, non-affiliated actors (though often with ties to some of the political parties, notably Labour) are also spending big in the final days to counter some of the Conservatives’ messaging. Much of that focuses on either anti-Brexit ads or calls for people to vote tactically to keep Boris Johnson out of No. 10 Downing Street.
Here’s what you need to know:
What are these ads and who are they targeting?
Roughly 80 percent of online politicking is done on Facebook (and the company’s other services like Instagram and Messenger). The company allows political groups to use its massive dataset of users to pinpoint messages — based on gender, demographics, socio-economic factors, or all of the above — to groups of people across the country.