Now you can opt out of displaying political ads on Facebook
Facebook previously changed what some users can see with political ads. In January, the company announced that it would be giving people the option to see fewer such ads. With the update announced on Tuesday, you can completely unsubscribe.
Other social media companies have taken a much tougher stance on political ads. Last year, Jack Dorsey, CEO of Twitter, said Twitter would ban all political ads because they challenge bourgeois discourse.
“We believe political message reach should be earned, not bought,” said Dorsey.
Both Facebook and Twitter publish libraries of political ads that have appeared on their websites so that users can search for specific advertisers while keeping track of their news and spending habits. The companies also regularly put down coordinated disinformation campaigns and monitor attempts at election interference by foreign activists.
However, critics said Facebook is not transparent enough. “There are significant problems with the Facebook advertising library that makes it really difficult to keep track of even looking for disinformation in ads, let alone assessing how the audience is affecting the audience,” said Claire Wardle by First Draft, a nonprofit that researches the effects of misinformation in the media.
Facebook also unveiled a polling information center on Tuesday, a feature designed to provide people with more data on elections. This includes voting information, voter registration information, postal voting and early voting information.
“Covid is going to make it really hard for people to understand what’s going on and how to vote,” said Emily Dalton Smith, director of social impact products at Facebook, in an interview. She said the election information center would help people get necessary and accurate information for the fall elections.
The function will be introduced at the top of the news feeds for American users of Facebook and Instagram. Facebook aims to use its initiative to help more than four million people register to vote. It is estimated that half the US population would see information on how to vote in the November election.
Kate Conger provided coverage from Oakland, California and Cecilia Kang from Washington.