Facebook has announced it will soon make it possible for a user to view all ads currently being run by a Brand's Page in their news feed, including those that aren’t directly targeted at them.
The bid for ramped up transparency follows the alleged influence of Russian-bought Facebook ads in the US election coming from “inauthentic accounts”, which purportedly “exploited racial and social divisions and exploit ugly stereotypes”.
An estimated 10 million people saw the ads, which focused on divisive issues such as LGBT treatment, immigration and gun rights, a manipulation that “runs counter to Facebook’s mission of building community and everything we stand for,” said the social network.
Yesterday, Facebook announced it was handing over 3,000 such ads to congressional investigators and vowed to take on 1,000 new staff to its global review team, in addition to rolling out a number of new updates aimed at increasing ad transparency for its network’s users.
“We believe that when you see an ad, you should know who ran it and what other ads they’re running – which is why we show you the Page name for any ads that run in your feed,” said Joel Kaplan, VP global product policy.
“To provide even greater transparency for people and accountability for advertisers, we’re now building new tools that will allow you to see the other ads a Page is running as well – including ads that aren’t targeted to you directly.”
With Facebook frequently relying on its users to report ads in breach of its policies, Kaplan expressed hopes that this level of transparency will allow more users to report inappropriate ads.
It’s a crackdown on inappropriate and misleading ads, but the ability for every user to see all of a brand’s variants will place a weight of accountability on all advertisers on the network; what a brand feels it can “get away with” when targeting one audience, for example, could see it reported by another. It’s not just the average user that will be able to make use of the tool either, with nothing stopping watchdogs from using the system to heavily monitor advertisers in question.
On the other hand, as pointed out by TechCrunch, this level of visibility may deter advertisers from “experimenting” with various ad formats and messaging.