Euro election ads, that Sky News report on US tweets, & "OpenAI Ireland" lawyers up

Euro election ads, that Sky News report on US tweets, & "OpenAI Ireland" lawyers up

Welcome new subscribers, who maybe heard about The Briefing on RTE's This Week, or the For Tech's Sake podcast. More about the newsletter here.

I'm covering 3 things in 700 words this week, so lets dive in

1) European Parliament election ads

Nomination for the Euros closed on Tuesday, and a record 74 people have put themselves forward for 14 seats. The list includes 16 candidates from newer nationalist parties (more than 1 in 5), and another 21 independents.

That list gets shorter when we look at who is spending money online. I pulled Meta (Facebook and Instagram) ad spending data for the last week, and for the last 2 months, by MEP candidates, thanks to WhoTargetsMe's tools. You can see the top spenders in this table.

Analysis of spending by Irish MEP candidates in the past week and 2 months. Source: Meta ad archive via WhoTargetsMe

Something interesting is happening in the Midlands North-West, which runs from Maynooth to Donegal. This is where most money was spent this week, almost €6k. But 72% of that money was spent by the 3 Fianna Fáil candidates running there, a sign of campaigns kicking off, or an intra-party arms race?

Their constituency rival is the only independent among the top spenders, incumbent Luke "Ming" Flanagan, who started running ads last week.

Sinn Féin, big spenders as a party (see last week's newsletter), were lagging behind last week. But if we take a longer view, we see their Midlands North-West incumbent Chris MacManus has been consistently spending, with over €4k spent in the last 2 months.

Meanwhile on Google (including search and YouTube ads), the Labour Party are running a series of mostly video ads promoting Dublin candidate Aodhán Ó Ríordáin. The small amounts per ad (under €50), but the rather slickly produced content, suggest message testing. We might anticipate these ramping up in the coming weeks.

A screenshot of one of many Labour Party ads being run to promote candidate Aodhán Ó Ríordáin, source: Google Ad Archive

2) That Sky News report on US tweets

US registered accounts were responsible for most (56%) posts on X/ Twitter mentioning Newtownmountkennedy - the location of a violent protests this week - according to data of tweets data obtained by Sky News. BUT - this comes with a very big context warning.

SkyNews analysis of tweets mentioning Newtownmountkennedy, based on the stated location of the account owner

Whether this means the story caught global attention, the protests have global links, or X data is crap, we don't know. As the brilliant Aoife Gallagher pointed out to me, if X / Twitter doesn't know where you are from, they default to categorising your account as from the US.

A screenshot of X's website, highlighting that the website defaults to the US. Highlights by Aoife Gallagher, source:

And, here is a good take from Mark Coughlan of RTE Prime Time:

3) Open AI lawyers up in Dublin

Open AI are partnering with Dublin City Council for a pilot of GPT-4 driven tourism apps. They are also looking for another Dublin based privacy lawyer. They formally establishing an EU / EEA headquarters here - "OpenAI Ireland Limited" - in December. That brought enforcement of GDPR in Europe under the Irish Data Protection Commissioner.

They had been facing multiple inquires from privacy regulators across Europe, including a ban in Italy, and investigations in Poland, France, Germany, Ireland, Spain and Switzerland.

The European Data Protection Board (EDPB - remember them?) even set up a task force to monitor the company - and a new AI Office that would be independent of any member nation. This, they said, was to curtail “forum shopping", where companies seek out the most "business friendly" national regulator as their one-stop-shop (read: potential bottleneck) for all complaints, especially the AI Act plays out. Watch this space.