Last week, Facebook initiated an archive of U.S. political ads that show who paid for them and different points of interest, after objections over Russian meddling during the 2016 U.S. Presidential elections. The archive starts with advertisements during the election, and the tools will be made available to different nations in the coming months.
“Deciding what is or is not a political issue is inherently controversial, and not everyone will agree with our approach,” said Facebook Director of Global Politics and Government Katie Harbath and Outreach Director Steve Satterfield. “But we believe in giving legitimate campaigns a voice—while also helping to make sure that people can find out who is trying to influence their vote and why.”
Facebook, which has 2.2 billion active users monthly, vowed seven months ago to make a cache, saying on the eve of U.S. congressional hearings that it needed to expand transparency about its part in political promotions. Advanced service companies like Facebook, Twitter, Google, and YouTube have changed how political campaigns attract voters because of their ability to focus advertisements at specific audiences, and their low cost compared to TV.
“Beginning on Thursday, all US ads about elections or political issues on Facebook and Instagram, which is owned by Facebook, must be labelled with the payer,” Rob Leathern, Facebook’s Director of Ad Product Management, said in the company blog. “Clicking on the label will take people to a searchable archive with information such as the campaign budget, how many people saw it and the demographics of those people such as age, location and gender. We believe that increased transparency will lead to increased accountability and responsibility over time—not just for Facebook, but advertisers as well.”
The United States is entering a political season ahead of Nov. 6 elections that will test the strength of President Donald Trump. Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg has confronted inquiries regarding election integrity from the nation’s legislators. Voters will elect 435 individuals for the House of Representatives and a third of the 100-member Senate.