metawhich owns Facebook and Instagram, said it planned to provide outside researchers with more detailed information about how political ads were being targeted on its platform, providing insights into the ways politicians, campaign workers and political strategists buy and use ads. for the midterm elections†
Starting Monday, academics and researchers registered with an initiative called the Facebook Open Research and Transparency project will be able to see data on how each political or social ad was used to target people. The information includes which categories of interest — such as “people who like dogs” or “people who love the outdoors” — have been chosen to target an ad to someone.
In addition, Meta said it plans to include summaries of targeting information for some of its ads in its publicly viewable ad library beginning in July. The company founded the Advertising Library in 2019 so that journalists, academics and others can obtain information and help protect elections from misuse of digital advertising.
While Meta has given outsiders some access to how its political ads have been used in the past, it has limited the amount of information that could be seen for privacy reasons. Critics have claimed that the company system is flawed and sometimes buggyand have often asked for more information.
That has led to conflict. Meta before clashed with a group of academics from New York University who tried to absorb large amounts of self-reported data from Facebook users to learn more about the platform. The company cut no more access to the group last year, citing platform rule violations.
The new data, added to the Facebook Open Research Transparency project and ad library, is a way to share information about political ad targeting while keeping user data private, the company said.
“By making targeting criteria available to advertisers for analysis and reporting on ads on social issues, elections and politics, we hope to give people a better understanding of the practices used to reach potential voters through our technologies,” the company said in a statement. a statement.
For example, the new data allowed researchers browsing the ad library to see that a Facebook page ran 2,000 political ads over the course of a month and that 40 percent of the ad budget was directed to “people living in Pennsylvania” or “people interested are in politics.”
Meta said it was bound by privacy rules and regulations about what types of data it was allowed to share with outsiders. In an interview, Jeff King, a vice president of Meta’s business integrity unit, said the company had hired thousands of employees over the past few years to review those privacy issues.
“Everything we release now goes through a privacy review,” he said. “We want to make sure we give people the right amount of data, yet remain privacy conscious while doing it.”
The new political advertising data covers the period from August 2020, three months before the last US presidential election, to the present.