Meta Sheds Light on Political Ad Targeting

Meta — the parent company of Facebook, WhatsApp and Instagram — has announced plans to share new data related to political ads and how they are targeted across its platform through the Facebook Open Research and Transparency project and the company’s Ad Library. This information will apply to all countries where Meta currently has ad authorizations and available disclaimer tools.

More specifically, “at the end of this month, detailed targeting information for social issues, electoral or political ads will be made available to vetted academic researchers through the Facebook Open Research and Transparency (FORT) environment,” said Jeff King, Meta’s vice president of business integrity, in a statement.

The new addition of data is an expansion of a pilot program introduced last year that focused on increasing transparency around 2020 election ads. The project’s overall goal is to enable academic researchers to study social media’s impact on society along with creating new measures to protect privacy.


As for other changes coming down the pipeline, an update to Meta’s publicly available Ad Library is slated for July to provide targeting information for ads. Users can access this information to look at the type of targeting a page ran, including location, demographics and interests, compared to the percentage spent on targeting those options.

Also included in the update is data on whether a page used custom audiences or lookalike audiences.

“For example, the Ad Library could show that over the last 30 days, a page ran 2,000 ads about social issues, elections or politics and that 40 percent of their spend on these ads was targeted to ‘people who live in Pennsylvania’ or ‘people who are interested in politics,’” a statement from Meta said.

Overall, by making this information available, the goal is to help people understand the practices used to reach potential voters on Meta’s technologies, King said in a statement. As for the company’s other goals, King highlighted the importance of protecting privacy.

“We are committed to providing meaningful transparency, while also protecting people’s privacy,” he said. “In updating our tools, we solicited advice from external experts in the academic community and civil society on how to best achieve both of these important objectives, and we will continue to do so as we continue to evolve these tools.”

To keep up with these updates, the Meta for Business Election Integrity microsite will have the most up-to-date information.





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