As the scrutiny around Facebook’s role in political information and advertising continues, they have made a decision about how to handle it: continue to try and provide clean, transparent information, and let the users decide with their votes in elections.
“With so much of our discourse taking place online, I believe platforms like Facebook can play a positive role in this election by helping Americans use their voice where it matters most – by voting.” – Mark Zuckerberg
Opting Out of Political Advertising
Rolling out on both Facebook and Instagram is a new feature called the Voting Information Center.
Among the myriad features it will showcase, there’s one that users are likely to be happiest about: they will be able to opt out of political advertising, starting today with a rollout over the next few weeks.
The definition of political ads include the following:
- social issues
- electoral ads
- political ads from candidates
- super PACs
- any ad type with a “paid for by” disclaimer
The action can be taken by either hitting the three dots on the ad and choosing to to no longer see it, or it can be set up in your preference for Ad Topics in the Ad Preferences section.
Here are demo videos on both methods:
It can also be done in Instagram, again with either option:
They note that this will roll out in the fall to other countries where enforcement is possible.
Clarity Around Ad Sharing
Another issue that’s being addressed is clarity around politically-sponsored ads.
While political ads must contain the “paid for by”disclosure, there was a catch: if an ad was shared onto a users profile or Page, the disclaimer would disappear.
This blurred the line for users around what was a paid-for statement. Starting today, the “paid for by” note will follow that ad, no matter where it’s shared.
Public Spending Accountability
Facebook will also be implementing transparency in account spending. There will be an ad spending tracker present reflecting total spends for US House races, Senate races, and also Presidential candidates.
They will also have a tracker that can compare advertiser spending in political and issue ads.
All of these additions are extensions of Ad Library features and user controls that were promised back in January.
Voting Information Center
The tug-of-war over whether Facebook should be involved in political messaging has been a contentious issue for years.
Many have been frustrated with their refusal to put tighter controls in place, but Mark Zuckerberg has stood by his stance that Facebook’s role is to facilitate information and participation in governmental elections.
“Ultimately, I believe the best way to hold politicians accountable is through voting, and I believe we should trust voters to make judgments for themselves. That’s why I think we should maintain as open a platform as possible, accompanied by ambitious efforts to boost voter participation.” – Mark Zuckerberg
In that vein, Facebook has created a Voting Information Center. It will provide details to users about how and where they can vote. This includes information about mail-in ballots, voter registration, and early voting options.
They also note they will include posts from state election officials and verified local election authorities.
It will appear front and center on users’ News Feeds:
Their full announcement can be found here.