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Facebook to Provide More Details about Political Advertising

The mobile phone apps for, from left, Facebook, Instagram and WhatsApp are shown on a device in New York. (AP Photo/Richard Drew, File)
The mobile phone apps for, from left, Facebook, Instagram and WhatsApp are shown on a device in New York. (AP Photo/Richard Drew, File)
Facebook to Provide More Details about Political Advertising
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Facebook’s parent Meta says it will start providing more details about how advertisers target people with political advertisements.

The company’s recent announcement follows years of criticism that social media companies are not open about how campaigns, politicians and special interest organizations target specific groups.

Critics have expressed concern that the groups have been targeted with ad messages that are misleading or seek to politically divide citizens.

Meta said it will start releasing details in July about the demographics and interests of people targeted with ads running on its Facebook and Instagram networks. The company said it will also share how much advertisers spent in an effort to target people in different U.S. states.

Meta’s vice president of business integrity, Jeff King, announced the change in an online statement. The decision will permit data about advertising targeting to be examined and publicized, he said. Such ads could be related to social issues, elections and politics. “We hope to help people better understand the practices used to reach potential voters on our technologies,” King added.

The announcement said Meta will provide researchers with new details about the interest groups advertisers chose to target.

The new details could provide information about how politicians might choose to spread misleading or controversial political messages among different groups.

Some interest groups and Democratic politicians have long argued that misleading political ads have heavily targeted Spanish-speaking populations.

The information will be available in Meta’s ad library. The library is a public record that already shows how much companies, politicians and campaigns spend on each ad run on Meta’s social media services. Currently, anyone can see how much ad money has been spent. The library also shows the ages, gender and states or countries an ad is shown in.

The new, detailed information will be available across 242 countries when a social issue, political or election ad is run, Meta said.

The company earned $86 billion during 2020, the last major U.S. election year. Experts say Meta’s profits are closely linked to its highly detailed ad targeting system. They say Facebook's ad system is so customizable that it is possible for advertisers to target a single user out of billions of people using the service.

I’m Bryan Lynn.

The Associated Press and Facebook reported on this story. Bryan Lynn adapted the report for VOA Learning English.

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Words in This Story

demographics – n. the study of populations and the different groups that make them up

practice – n. repeatedly doing an activity to improve your ability

potential – n. a possibility when the necessary conditions exist

controversial – adj. causing a lot of disagreement or argument

customize – v. to change something to make it suitable for a particular person or purpose