Facebook, Instagram to learn more about targeted ads

By Amanda Seitz | Associated press

WASHINGTON — Facebook parent Meta said it would begin publicly providing more details about how advertisers are targeting people with political ads just months before the U.S. midterm elections.

The announcement follows years of criticism that social media platforms withhold too much information about how campaigns, special interest groups and politicians use the platform to target small pockets of people with polarizing, divisive or misleading messages.

Meta, which also owns Instagram, said it would start releasing details in July about the demographics and interests of audiences targeted by ads running on its two main social networks. The company will also share how much advertisers spend targeting people in certain states.

“By making advertiser targeting criteria available for analysis and reporting on ads served on social issues, elections and politics, we hope to help people better understand the practices used to reach potential voters on our technologies,” Jeff King wrote in a statement to Meta’s. website.

The new details could shed more light on how politicians spread misleading or controversial political messages among certain groups of people. Advocacy groups and Democrats, for example, have argued for years that misleading political ads overwhelm the Facebook feeds of Spanish-speaking populations.

The information will be presented in the Facebook Ads Library, a public database that already shows how much companies, politicians or campaigns are spending on each ad served on Facebook, Instagram or WhatsApp. Currently, anyone can see how much a Page spent to run an ad and a breakdown of ages, gender, and the states or countries an ad is running in.

The information will be available in 242 countries when a social, political or election announcement is released, Meta said in a statement.

Meta raised $86 billion in revenue in 2020, the last major election year in the United States, thanks in part to its granular ad targeting system. Facebook’s advertising system is so customizable that advertisers can target just one user out of billions on the platform, if they choose.

Meta said in its announcement on Monday that it would provide searchers with new details indicating the categories of interest advertisers selected when trying to target people on the platform.

Comments are closed.