Washington, May 25 (BUS): Facebook’s parent company, Meta, said it will start providing more details to the public about how advertisers target people with political ads just months before the US midterm elections.
The announcement comes after years of criticism that social media platforms withhold too much information about how campaigns, special interest groups and politicians have used the platform to target small pockets of people with polarizing, divisive or misleading messages, the AP reports.
Meta, which also owns Instagram, said it will start releasing details in July about the demographics and interests of the target audiences with ads running on the two major social networks. The company will also share how much advertisers have spent trying to target people in certain states.
Jeff King wrote in a statement posted on the Meta website.
The new details could shed more light on how politicians spread misleading or controversial political messages among certain groups of people. For example, Democrats and advocacy groups have argued for years that misleading political ads overwhelm the Spanish-speaking population’s Facebook feeds.
The information will be displayed in the Facebook Ads Library, a public database that actually shows how much businesses, politicians or campaigns spend on each ad run via Facebook, Instagram or WhatsApp. Currently, anyone can see how much a Page has spent running an ad and a breakdown of the ages, gender, and countries or countries in which the ad appears.
In a statement, Meta said the information would be available across 242 countries when a social or political issue or election ad was presented.
Meta collected $86 billion in revenue during 2020, the last major election year in the US, thanks in part to its careful ad targeting system. Facebook’s ad system is so customizable that advertisers can target a single user out of the billions on the platform, if they want to.
In its announcement Monday, Meta said it would provide researchers with new details that show the interest categories that advertisers chose when they tried to target people on the platform.