In an announcement on Facebook, Mark Zuckerberg said the company would make changes to ensure political ads on its platform are more transparent.
Calling it “maybe the most important step we’re taking,” Zuckerberg pointed out that political ads online are not regulated to the same extent as ads on mediums like TV. The Facebook CEO said, in those cases, you still can’t be sure if you’re seeing the same ads as others.
“We’re going to bring Facebook to an even higher standard of transparency,” he said. “Not only will you have to disclose which page paid for an ad, but we will also make it so you can visit an advertiser’s page and see the ads that they are currently running to any audience on Facebook.” Zuckerberg said the company would roll out the changes in coming months, and added that they would work with others to set a “new standard” for online political ads.
The company has been criticized for enabling the use of so-called “dark posts,” which allow advertisers to target Facebook users without having the ads linked to the advertisers themselves. In one notable example from this week, a targeted ad about Donald Trump was used to walk back statements made earlier by the president. The new standards would seem to bring some transparency to that process.
The changes, announced as Zuckerberg also said the company would give Congress ads linked to Russian election interference, comes as politicians have called for new regulations on online political ads. Just yesterday, a group of Congressional democrats wrote to the FEC asking for new rules to prevent foreign meddling in the use of such ads. The debate over how to them, however, goes back much further. With the announcement, it seems Facebook will be willingly make some of those changes first.