Facebook aims to improve transparency around political advertising on its platform by opening up more data to independent researchers, including targeting information on more than 1.3 million ads served in the three months leading up to the November 3 U.S. election from last year. Researchers interested in studying the advertisements can request access to the Facebook Open the Research and Transparency Platform (FORT) here.
The move is important because Facebook has long resisted voluntarily allowing access to data relating to political advertising, often citing user privacy. The company even went so far as to deactivate third-party web plugins, like ProPublica. Facebook Political ad collection tool, which collects such data without Facebook’s express consent.
Facebook wants to help researchers better understand how its products are used for political advertising
Many research groups around the world have spent years studying Facebook’s impact on everything from democratic elections to news broadcast, but sometimes without full access to all the desired data. Just last year, after partnering with Social Science One at Harvard University (the group that oversees nominations for the new political ad targeting initiative), Facebook better formalize the process of granting anonymous user data for research studies.
In the old days, Facebook has made available to the public some crucial political information about the ads in its Ads Library, including the amount spent on certain ads and demographic information about who viewed those ads. But now the company says it wants to do more to improve transparency, especially on how advertisers target certain subsets of users with political advertising.
“We created this tool to allow university researchers to study the impact of Facebook’s products on the elections and included measures to protect people’s privacy and ensure the security of the platform, “reads a blog post by Sarah Clark Schiff, a Facebook product manager, released Monday. “By making targeting criteria, such as location and interests, selected by advertisers serving social, election or political advertising available for analysis and reporting, we hope to help people better understand the practices. used to reach potential voters on Facebook. ”
Schiff says Facebook is open to partnering with academics to “better understand the impact of digital advertising on the 2020 US elections.” The company will also keep its 2020 U.S. election expenses tracking, but it will be moved to its Elections page, where it will always be available for download.
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- According to the source Facebook will allow researchers to study how advertisers targeted users with political ads prior to election day
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