Just days after Twitter announced its “transparency center” to demystify their ad-targeting algorithms and force political advertisers to disclose information on their campaigns, Facebook released a blog detailing precisely the same transparency features for Facebook ads as well.
“When it comes to advertising on Facebook, people should be able to tell who the advertiser is and see the ads they’re running, especially for political ads,” said Rob Goldman, vice president of Facebook Ads. “That level of transparency is good for democracy and it’s good for the electoral process. Transparency helps everyone, especially political watchdog groups and reporters, keep advertisers accountable for who they say they are and what they say to different groups.”
This feature will apply to Instagram and Messenger in addition to Facebook proper.
Although the service in its current state will only display active ads, the blog detailed future updates, including a searchable archive of political ads and details on the amount spent, impressions delivered and demographics targeted.
Additionally, Facebook may require some political advertisers to verify their identity and location to buy ads in the first place. Once the ads are live, users will be able to see both details on the advertiser and an explanation as to why they are seeing that specific ad.
Facebook said it will first test these features in Canada and roll them out to the US “by this summer” before the midterm elections in November.
The newly implemented ad features come less than a month after Facebook testified before Congress over its political ads during the 2016 presidential election, and less than two months after the company came under fire for allowing advertisers to specifically target ads to anti-Semites.
Other social media platforms could potentially jump on board the advertising transparency bandwagon too. Senator John McCain announced a bipartisan bill earlier this month to apply FEC broadcast and print regulations to internet sites earlier this month.
“US laws requiring transparency in political campaigns have not kept pace with rapid advances in technology, allowing our adversaries to take advantage of these loopholes to deceive millions of American voters with impunity,” Senator McCain said in a press release. “Our bipartisan legislation would address this serious challenge by expanding landmark campaign finance law to apply to internet and digital communications platforms that command a significant audience.”