Facebook Adds Political Ad Control Tools

Billing it as an "expanded transparency policy and more controls for political ads," Facebook has confirmed that it will continue to accept political ads without vetting them for their truthfulness. 

That came in an online post from Rob Leathern, director of product management, who said that Facebook would provide more transparency and control of political and issue ads, but would not limit them as other platforms have done. 

Related: House Takes Deep Dives into Online Fakes 

"While Twitter has chosen to block political ads and Google has chosen to limit the targeting of political ads, we are choosing to expand transparency and give more controls to people when it comes to political ads," he said. 

That transparency includes tools that 1) show how many people a political or issue ad was targetting, 2) improve the ability to search and analyze those ads, and 3) allow users to view fewer political ads, and fewer ads in general.  

Related: Dorsey Says Twitter Will Ban Political Ads 

"Ultimately, we don’t think decisions about political ads should be made by private companies, which is why we are arguing for regulation that would apply across the industry," he said, putting in a plug for the Honest Ads Act. 

But the co-author of the Honest Ads Act was not celebrating the announcement.  “Facebook is doubling down on a policy that hurts our democracy," said presidential candidate and Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.). "It is wrong to take money from political campaigns in exchange for disseminating blatant lies to the American people. It is also wrong that Facebook is immune from any liability for the reckless political ads they sell. We must have rules of the road to ensure that Americans can trust the news they see online.” 

That immunity reference was to Sec. 230 of the Communications Decency Act, which provides Facebook and other online platforms liability protection from third party content. 

John Eggerton

Contributing editor John Eggerton has been an editor and/or writer on media regulation, legislation and policy for over four decades, including covering the FCC, FTC, Congress, the major media trade associations, and the federal courts. In addition to Multichannel News and Broadcasting + Cable, his work has appeared in Radio World, TV Technology, TV Fax, This Week in Consumer Electronics, Variety and the Encyclopedia Britannica.