Facebook tests new ad transparency features for political ads on the platform

Facebook tests new ad transparency features for political ads on the platform

Facebook has confirmed that they will increase ad transparency by allowing users to see which adverts an organisation is running on the platform.

Earlier this month, Facebook told Tech Crunch: “We believe that when you see an ad, you should know who ran it and what other ads they’re running – which is why we show you the Page name for any ads that run in your feed.” Facebook also announced that they’d be further improving ad transparency by letting users see other adverts a Page is running, even if they’re not targeted to them directly.

These ads can be accessed through a new ‘View Ads’ option which will be added to Pages next month, and will enable you see ads run across the platform, as well as Messenger, Instagram, and Facebook’s Audience Network. However, the option is already being tested on some Pages.

The confirmation of Facebook’s new ad transparency features follows an investigation into how social media was used to spread political messages in the run-up to the 2016 US Presidential Election. Earlier this month, Facebook handed over 3,000 ads to congressional investigators that were purchased by a Russian company to influence U.S. politics, and were said to “exploit racial and social divisions”.

Last week, Twitter also announced the rollout of their new Ad Transparency Centre which will provide similar insights into how organisations are advertising on their platform.

As Social Media Today explains in their article, Facebook’s new option to ‘View Ads’ should help to put an end to ‘dark posts’. These are promoted posts that are shown to a specific target audience, but are invisible to anyone who’s not targeted. Andrew Huchinson from Social Media Today explains: “This is reportedly one of the key ways in which politically motivated groups have used Facebook ads to spark dissent and division, focusing very specific ads onto receptive and/or vulnerable audiences in order to fuel movements.”

Although this is being tested in Canada, Facebook’s new ad transparency features will also include an archive of ads related to federal elections when it’s rolled out to the US. This will cover a “rolling four-year period” from the start of the archive being launched, and it’s expected to include information on the demographics that were targeted, the number of impressions ads have relieved, and the total and average amounts spent on ads, Tech Crunch explains.

To identify political advertisers that don’t identify themselves, Facebook says it’s also working on new ‘machine-learning’ tools for this purpose.

The TJM take: With the controversy surrounding some of the adverts shown in the run up to last year’s Presidential Election, and the simple fact that so many people are distrusting of ads, it’s a smart move for Facebook to be targeting their transparency in this way; especially since their competitor, Twitter, has already taken these steps with the release of their new Ad Transparency Centre.

In the wake of the new ‘View Ads’ feature being rolled out, it’s essential to ensure that you’re showing the right ads for the right audiences, and that the information you include is fair to all demographics. For help with this and other aspects of Twitter and Facebook ads, contact Traffic Jam Media.

*Image source: Social Media Today

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