Social media platforms have been under scrutiny when it comes to data privacy and protection – especially when it comes to targeted advertisements. Interestingly, Facebook and Twitter have released ad transparency tools. Will they be effective? What should be expected by users?
Facebook appears to start pulling back on its advertisement-focused approach when the social media giant has released a couple of new features that will allow users to see specific details on all advertisements they see in the social media platform.
Meanwhile, Twitter also released its new advertisement checking tools to provide users a better view on how their ads operations work.
This means the 2 billion users of Facebook can now go check nay Facebook page and see a new a button named “Info and Ads.” Clicking this allows you to see the entire page history of the business, showing you things such as name changes and all the advertisements they are running on the platform. Users can even see a link to the site the ad wants users to see, and the creative copy used on the said advertisement.
This change is potentially huge, as it allows the public to actually see just how advertisements work on Facebook – when only Facebook possessed these details a few years before.
It appears that this move is also Facebook’s way of showing better transparency to its users, especially when the midterm elections in the United States are about to arrive. It can be remembered that Facebook has been under scrutiny not only because of the recent Cambridge Analytica scandal, but also its apparent involvement during the presidential election in 2016. This is especially in the case of the spread of divisive political propaganda and fake news spread by both foreign agents and other citizens using the platform.
Sheryl Sandberg, chief operating officer for Facebook, said the transparency tools or advertisements is part of their push to better invest in preventing abuse of user data, especially in terms of targeted ads. She added this is also Facebook’s way of starting to amend its underinvesting in policing the kind of system they’ve made for their social media platform.
Sandberg added the changes will spark a huge change in the social media platform, and this reflects the kind of responsibility they have as a company.
Aside from the transparency tools, Facebook plans on giving their users a better look on how its advertising operations work. These include indicating just how many political advertisers exist, how much they spend on their advertisements, and they can even show just which political advertisements are shown for every country.
Interestingly, Twitter also released its own set of transparency tools in the form of the Advertising Transparency Center. This is a new section of its settings tab that will allow users to see all the advertisements that are on Twitter. Not only that, but information such as the length of time the ads were running will be indicated as well. This will allow users to see Twitter with a different “feel” and “look,” especially in terms of political advertisements.
Facebook’s Sandberg already told advertisers of the platform that the Info and Ads tool were already due to arrive. Majority of advertisers were supportive of the tools, but some also raised concerns on the platform that they may be giving away their strategies to competitors as this practically explains their strategy in terms of their social media approach.
Regardless, Facebook’s new approach towards ads will definitely give it an edge in the long run. Sandberg said that this allows them to receive better input from experts, and can better show that Facebook can be held accountable for its actions.
Meanwhile, Facebook also plans to offer a special archive tool that will be tracking political ads for as much as seven (7) years. This tool will not be retroactive, however, which means political ads during the 2016 elections won’t be included in this system. However, Sandberg said the political archive will serve as a heavy lift, which means Facebook isn’t especially focused on archiving advertisements on all topics – at least, for now.
Sandberg also emphasized Facebook’s support for California’s Data Privacy Protection Act, which is legislation that would allow people to learn just what forms of information will companies collect from them. This will be the United States’ closest counterpart to Europe’s General Data Protection Regulations (GDPR) that were also enforced to all companies dealing with European countries.
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