Facebook has chosen not to make amendments to its advertising policies which allows the spread of misinformation in political messaging.
In a blog post on Thursday, Rob Leathern, director of product management announced that Facebook updated their Ad Library to increase the level of transparency and allow people to see fewer political and social issue ads.
The updates include better Ad Library search and filtering, control over Custom Audiences from a list, viewing audience size in the Ad Library and seeing fewer political ads. These features will roll out in the first quarter of 2020 and will apply to all countries which facilitates Facebook’s “Paid for by” disclaimers on ads.
Over the recent months, there has been much debate about political advertising online, with many tech companies taking on different approaches, with Twitter making the decision to block political ads and Google choosing to limit the targeting of political ads, Facebook has decided to expand transparency.
“In the absence of regulation, Facebook and other companies are left to design their own policies. We have based ours on the principle that people should be able to hear from those who wish to lead them, warts and all, and that what they say should be scrutinized and debated in public,” said Leathern.
Critics have argued that leaving political advertising unregulated could allow for the increasing spread of misinformation, and slowly break away at the legitimacy of election results.
This approach has already displayed its flaws. In October, a Facebook ad posted by Donald Trump’s campaign made false accusations about Joe Biden and his son, which was viewed by millions.
Mr Biden asked the company to remove the advert but they refused.
“Ultimately, we don’t think decisions about political ads should be made by private companies, which is why we are arguing for regulation that would apply across the industry. The Honest Ads Act is a good example — legislation that we endorse and many parts of which we’ve already implemented — and we are engaging with policy makers in the European Union and elsewhere to press the case for regulation too.
“Frankly, we believe the sooner Facebook and other companies are subject to democratically accountable rules on this the better.”