Facebook-Owner Meta to Share More Political Ad Targeting Data

(Reuters) – Facebook owner Meta Platforms Inc will share more data on targeting choices made by advertisers running political and social-issue ads in its public ad database, it said on Monday.

Meta said it would also include detailed targeting information for these individual ads in its “Facebook Open Research and Transparency” database used by academic researchers, in an expansion of a pilot launched last year.

“Instead of analyzing how an ad was delivered by Facebook, it’s really going and looking at an advertiser strategy for what they were trying to do,” said Jeff King, Meta’s vice president of business integrity, in a phone interview.

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The social media giant has faced pressure in recent years to provide transparency around targeted advertising on its platforms, particularly around elections. In 2018, it launched a public ad library, though some researchers criticized it for glitches and a lack of detailed targeting data.

Meta said the ad library will soon show a summary of targeting information for social issue, electoral or political ads run by a page.

“For example, the Ad Library could show that over the last 30 days, a Page ran 2,000 ads about social issues, elections or politics, and that 40% of their spend on these ads was targeted to ‘people who live in Pennsylvania’ or ‘people who are interested in politics,'” Meta said in a blog post.

Meta said the additional information in the ad library will be added in July. It said the data for vetted researchers will be available at the end of May and will show information since August 2020.

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The company has run various programs with external researchers as part of its transparency efforts. Last year, it said a technical error meant flawed data had been provided to academics in its “Social Science One” project.

In 2021, the company said it had disabled the accounts of a group of New York University researchers studying political ads on its platform because of user privacy concerns.

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