Facebook to Reveal Details of Advertisers, Ads Used on Site

John Lister's picture

Facebook says it will be more transparent about who is running ads on its site. It's also introducing tighter controls on election-related ads.

The transparency changes follow questions about the influence of political advertising, particularly when it was unclear who had actually bought and placed the ads. However, Facebook says it will apply to changes to ads of all kind. (Source: fb.com)

Changes Set For 2018 Campaigns

The changes will mean that any paid ad on Facebook must be linked to a Page, which is the business or organization equivalent to a personal account on the site. When the change takes effect, users will be able to visit any Page and click a button to see all the ads it is currently running on Facebook. Anyone will be able to see the full list of ads, regardless of whether they are part of the chosen target audience for a particular ad.

The changes will roll out as a test in Canada first of all and then go worldwide later in the year, with a specific target of getting the new system in place for next year's US midterm elections.

Political ads will come under additional rules. Anyone placing an ad that relates to a specific election will need to verify not just who they are, but whether they represent anyone and what their physical location is. This information will then be accessible in a link that appears next to the ads in questions. Users will also be able to see the specific criteria by which they were selected to see the ad.

US Ads To Be Archived

Facebook also plans to build a searchable archive of ads that relate to US federal elections. Once fully established, the archive will cover the previous four years. As well as listing the content of each ad, Facebook will include details of the total amount the advertiser spent on that specific ad, along with the number of times it was viewed. The details will also include a demographic breakdown of the people who saw the ad.

This goes beyond current legal requirements that only require disclosure of spending totals by individuals and political committees and don't cover online outlets or platforms that carry the ads. (Source: cjr.org)

What's Your Opinion?

Are such changes necessary? Do they go far enough? Is Facebook's influence on politics so great that its ads need external oversight?

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Dennis Faas's picture

I'm wondering if this will be publicly available information, and if Facebook will also allow users to block ALL ads by an advertiser. That would be amazing. Now we can finally see who's posting all those "1 simple trick" ads and ban them forever!