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Quartz will use audience and AI to investigate online political influence

Graphic that says "Quartz Investigations - tracking online political influence"
Bárbara Abbês/Quartz
By Kevin J. Delaney
Published Last updated This article is more than 2 years old.

For nearly seven years, Quartz has been obsessed with how technology infuses our lives, from Machines with Brains (algorithms and robots) to Glass (screens) to Powering Up (big tech innovation and privacy). Today, we are announcing a new Quartz investigations team rooted in these obsessions and committed to producing high-impact, accountability journalism supported by audience participation and machine learning.

Four Quartz journalists will tackle one issue at a time, drawing on our unique background and global experience reporting on business structures, practices, and incentives to hold public and private institutions accountable for their choices and their use of power. The team includes machine-learning journalist Jeremy B. Merrill and two additional roles, for which we’re accepting internal and external applicants. John Keefe, who has led the Quartz AI Studio, will lead the team as investigations editor.

Our first focus: online political influence.

Specifically, we will investigate and expose coordinated efforts to sway, confuse, and divide the US electorate ahead of the 2020 presidential election.

This is an open investigation, and we need your help monitoring the campaigns, companies, governments, and other actors involved in those efforts. What are you seeing in your social media feeds? Who is trying to get you to vote, and how? Have you seen efforts to divide, mislead, mobilize, or agitate people? Are you involved in research into online influence? Do you work at an advertising or social media company?

You can participate now by:

  • Adding the political ad collector to your web browser. Originally developed by Merrill before joining Quartz, and now run by the Globe and Mail, this tool automatically sends the ads you see on Facebook to a database we can analyze.
  • Becoming a Quartz member to support our journalism and be connected to our newsroom.

To sort through troves of advertisements and other data, we will use machine-learning techniques developed in the Quartz AI Studio. This will allow us to uncover leads and insights nearly impossible to find otherwise. Quartz has journalists based around the world, who speak dozens of different languages, so we’re prepared to follow stories wherever they take us.

Beyond the topic of political influence, the investigations team will help other Quartz journalists use these AI and crowd-collaboration methods to fuel investigations into other topics across the Quartz app,, and our email newsletters.

We hope you’ll join us.

Kevin J. Delaney
Editor in chief, Quartz

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