Facebook has announced the launch of a new Ad Library that will increase transparency on the platform. Users now will be able to search how much political figures are spending on ads over a 12 month period. It will also be possible to know which Pages’ ads reference certain issues such as immigration. Pages that keep changing their names won’t get away with it too. You can see what a page used to be called and all the history of its names.
Facebook was accused of doing very little to prevent Russian operatives from influencing the 2016 election through its platform. The new Ad Library is part of a long-term response to fix these issues. Facebook had a similar Ads Archive that launched last year. However, it only included ads related to politics and policy issues. The new library covers everything including archived and active ads. It will also display the dates that each page was created on, mergers of various pages, the location from which a page is managed, and the option to report any ad policy violation directly to the company.
The library allows you to search ads based on keywords. You can also search by page name. In case you are more interested in politics, Facebook will enable you to see how many political ads a given page has posted over the past week. The social media platform has also noted that it’s working on a feature that will offer daily downloadable Ad Library reports. The feature will offer monthly and quarterly reports too.
Facebook believes that the new Ad Library will give governments, journalists, and any other watchdog the tools they need to track ads on the platform and make sure they are not abused. There are a few people who have expressed their concerns over the new system, though. For example, some advertisers claim that the library can help competitors copy their ad messages or their ad strategies. News publishers say that sticking a “paid for by” label on their ads, especially when they are promoting political coverage may seem like they are campaigning for one side.
But Facebook will be going ahead with the plan despite these concerns. The company is also introducing a stricter verification process for users that want to post political ads on the platform. Advertisers putting out a political message will need to submit documents verifying their identity and location. The documents will be reviewed by automated systems and audited by users who can report ads.
These transparency tools will not be limited to the US and Europe alone. Facebook says that it’s actually rolling out similar tools in Israel, India, Ukraine, and Brazil. These countries are getting ready for important elections. The goal is to make the tools available globally by the end of June. It’s also important to note that you don’t need to be a Facebook user in order to access the Ad Library. This means that anyone can actually access the system whenever they want. Facebook has in the past failed to stop problematic ads on its platform. However, the company is stepping up its efforts as it wants to earn back the trust of its users.