Facebook parent company Meta said it will begin publicly providing more details about how advertisers are targeting people with political ads a few months before the US midterm elections.
The announcement follows years of criticism that social media platforms withheld too much information about how campaigners, advocacy groups and politicians are using the platform to target small groups of people with polarizing, divisive or misleading messages.
Meta, which also owns Instagram, said it will begin releasing details in July about the demographics and interests of the audiences it will target with ads running on its two primary social networks. The company also shares how much advertisers have spent targeting people in certain states.
“By providing advertiser targeting criteria for analyzing and reporting on ads that are placed on social issues, elections and politics, we hope to help people better understand the practices used to target potential Reaching voters with our technologies,” Jeff King wrote in a statement sent to Meta’s website.
The new details could shed more light on how politicians are spreading misleading or controversial political messages among certain groups of people. For example, advocacy groups and Democrats have argued for years that misleading political ads are flooding the Facebook feeds of Spanish speakers.
The information is presented in the Facebook Ads Library, a public database that already shows how much companies, politicians or campaigns spend on each ad they run on Facebook, Instagram or WhatsApp. Currently, anyone can see how much a Page spent running an ad, and a breakdown by age, gender, and states or countries where an ad is running.
The information will be available in 242 countries when a social issue, political or election ad runs, Meta said in a statement.
Meta generated $86 billion in revenue in 2020, the last major US election year, thanks in part to its granular ad targeting system. Facebook’s ad system is customizable enough to allow advertisers to target a single user out of billions on the platform if they choose.
Meta said in its announcement on Monday that it will provide researchers with new details showing the interest categories advertisers selected when trying to target people on the platform.
https://www.independent.co.uk/news/meta-ap-facebook-washington-instagram-b2085715.html Facebook, Instagram to learn more about how ads target users