Facebook parent company Meta has announced it will begin publically revealing more information on how advertisers reach people with political ads, just a few weeks before the midterm elections. U.S. midterm elections. The announcement comes amid several years of criticisms that social media platforms do not provide many details about the way that political groups and special interest groups utilize the platform to reach tiny groups of people who are polarized, divided, or false messages.
Meta, which also owns Instagram and Instagram, announced that it would start to release information about the demographics and preferences of users that are targeted by ads that are on its two major social networks. Meta will also reveal how much advertising dollars were paid to reach out to people living in specific states.
“By making the criteria for targeting advertisers accessible for analysis and reporting on advertisements that focus on election results, social issues as well as politics, we want to aid people in understanding the methods used to reach prospective voters through our technology,” Jeff King wrote in a blog post on Meta’s website.
The latest information may reveal more about the way that politicians distribute politically-motivated messages that are controversial or misleading to certain populations of people. Advocate groups, as well as Democrats, for instance, have been arguing for years that false political advertisements overpower the Facebook feeds of the Spanish-speaking population.
The information will be available in the Facebook Ad Library, which is a database accessible to the public that currently shows how much campaigners, political parties, or companies are spending on each ad that they place on Facebook, Instagram, or WhatsApp. At the moment, anyone can check the amount a page spent on running ads as well as a breakdown of gender, age, and states or countries the advertisement appears in.
The data will be accessible in 242 countries whenever an issue of social or political nature or election-related ad is aired, Meta said in a statement. Meta reported $86 billion in revenues in 2020, the most recent important U.S. election year, due to its precise ad targeting system. The Facebook advertising system is so flexible that advertisers could target a single person from billions of people of users on Facebook, should they wish to.
Meta announced on Monday that it would supply researchers with more details that will reveal the categories of interest advertisers used when they attempted to reach people through the platform.