Tech Overlook

Shining a Light on Ads With Political Content


By Rob Leathern, Director of Product Management

As we announced last month, we’re making big changes to the way ads with political content work on Facebook to help prevent abuse, especially during elections.

  • Starting today, all election-related and issue ads on Facebook and Instagram in the US must be clearly labeled – including a “Paid for by” disclosure from the advertiser at the top of the ad. This will help ensure that you can see who is paying for the ad – which is especially important when the Page name doesn’t match the name of the company or person funding the ad.
  • When you click on the label, you’ll be taken to an archive with more information. For example, the campaign budget associated with an individual ad and how many people saw it – including their age, location and gender.
  • That same archive can be reached by anyone in the world at facebook.com/politicalcontentads. People visiting the archive can see and search ads with political or issue content an advertiser has run in the US for up to seven years.
  • Advertisers wanting to run ads with political content in the US will need to verify their identity and location.

We believe that increased transparency will lead to increased accountability and responsibility over time – not just for Facebook but advertisers as well. We’re investing heavily in more people and better technology to proactively identify abuse. But if you see an ad which you believe has political content and isn’t labeled, please report it. Tap the three dots at the top right-hand corner of the ad, select “report,” and then “it refers to a political candidate or issue.” Facebook will review the ad, and if it falls under our Political Advertising policy, we’ll take it down and add it to the archive. The advertiser will then be banned from running ads with political content until they complete our authorization process. And we’ll follow up to let you know what happened to the ad you reported. This is the tool that makes it easier for you to find problems, which we want. We invite you to report any ad so we get better, faster.

We know that outside experts, researchers, and academics can also help by analyzing political advertising on Facebook. It’s why we’re working closely with our newly-formed Election Commission and other stakeholders to launch an API for the archive.

We also recognize that news coverage of elections and important issues is distinct from advocacy or electoral ads, even if those news stories receive paid distribution on Facebook. We’re working closely with news partners and are committed to updating the archive to help differentiate between news and non-news content.

These changes will not prevent abuse entirely. We’re up against smart, creative and well-funded adversaries who change their tactics as we spot abuse. But we believe that they will help prevent future interference in elections on Facebook. And it is why they are so important.



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