CLOSED: Call for participants Investigating the Influence Industry: Summer School

Join us for a two-week online Summer School organised by Tactical Tech’s Data and Politics and Exposing the Invisible projects between the 9th and 20th August 2021. We are looking for participants who may be journalists, researchers, or civil society investigators from across the world with a passion for conducting investigations into how political groups and the political influence industry are using personal data and data-driven technologies to influence voters, elections, and political processes.

Politicians are using Facebook advertising, search engines, and WhatsApp to reach voters. Political groups buy data on what people are interested in and hire companies to provide analysis of what types of people have which political interests. These practices require increasing scrutiny, as understanding how these tools work can allow us to evaluate their consequences for elections, voters, and democracy. However, the technologies and tactics are opaque, new tools are constantly being tested and loopholes in legislation make it hard to track what groups are using which tools and methods.

The Investigating the Influence Industry: Summer School will:

  • explain and explore the complex tools and tactics used by political actors with educational and informative lectures and speakers
  • provide hands-on workshops on investigation techniques specific to examining data-driven technologies used in politics
  • encourage participants to make connections with each other’s work and to advance this area of knowledge after the workshop

The sessions will be a mix of lectures, seminars, and hands-on workshops. In addition, there will be extra sessions with guest speakers. The online sessions will be accompanied by resources provided by Tactical Tech's Data and Politics project.

To Apply


Apply if you are:

  • an independent journalist
  • a civil society/'citizen' investigator or researcher working collaboratively or independently
  • a member of an NGO or other research organisation using and benefiting from investigations methods
  • an academic or student researching a related topic
  • any other member of civil society with a demonstrated passion and curiosity for applying investigative methods and standards to document, verify and expose issues of public interest.

We particularly encourage you to apply if:

  • You are an investigator or emerging investigator working in or with marginalised and disadvantaged communities
  • You have an interest in or work on local/regional issues and have fewer opportunities to access cross-national collaboration and skill-sharing events
  • You wish to gain more skills and knowledge from others and connect with a network of experienced investigators and practitioners
  • You are passionate about starting your own investigation and want to learn more about techniques and safety measures you can apply.
  • You are either at the start of their investigative journey, from across the world, and who have a curiosity to learn from others' experiences, or you are an experienced investigator who wishes to share skills and knowledge with others.

Apply by filling in our survey by 30th July (midnight anywhere):

Selection Process

Shortlisted applicants will be invited for interviews on a rolling basis between 20th July and 7th August.

Please Note - this summer school provides a free learning and collaboration opportunity, and we do not provide stipends or grants for attending the online institute sessions.

Dates and Times

Between the 9th and 20th August, online workshop sessions and events will take place. The main course will take place on three half-days during each week, time-dependent and negotiated on participant availability and timezones.

The final daily schedule will be decided following the application and selection process, based on participants' needs.

The Hosts

Since 2016, Tactical Tech’s Data and Politics team has conducted investigations into the pervasive data-driven technologies used by political groups within elections and political campaigns. We’ve unpacked the technical processes of campaign apps, examined cases such as the spending on campaign and communication consultants by UK and US political parties, and worked with partners to investigate how tools are used in elections worldwide.

Tactical Tech’s Exposing the Invisible (ETI) project promotes and enables the safe and ethical use of investigative techniques to expose wrongdoing and promote transparency in invisible processes. ETI provides regular workshops, investigation camps and training institutes, has been developing an online Kit for investigators, and facilitates a growing network of journalists, community investigators, artists, researchers, activists, technologists and NGOs who believe in the power of investigation as an important form of public engagement.

About the project

The summer school is part of a two-year project to strengthen the knowledge and investigative skills of civil society, policy-makers, investigators, election monitors, and other professionals who work on politics and technology. This project is supported by the Swedish Postcode Foundation. The event is organised in collaboration with Exposing the Invisible and its European Commission (DG CONNECT)-funded project “Exposing the Invisible – Building capacity for journalists and other media actors to conduct safe cross-border, cross-discipline integrated online and offline investigations”.

If you have any questions about the application process or the project please write to ( PGP fingerprint: 7FF1 2375 4A65 809D 0D0D BC8E 1FA0 DE80 4810 DF53 )