In a statement, Facebook Inc stated, it has tweaked its approach towards political ads and has introduced limited changes, which includes an option for users to turn off certain ad-targeting tools.
Facebook has defied critics’ demands of barring political ads in its platform which often spew out fake news.
Facebook, the world’s biggest social network, has vowed to curb political manipulations from its platform ahead of the U.S. presidential election in November 2020.
In 2016, it had failed to counter Russian interference in the then Presidential elections as a result of which user data was misused by firms such as the now defunct political consulting firm Cambridge Analytica.
Facebook now faces intense scrutiny over its relatively hands-off ads policies, especially after exempting politicians’ ads from fact-checking standards applied to other content.
In its statement, Facebook said, it will soon introduce a tool which will allow individual users to choose to see fewer political and social issue ads.
In contrast, Twitter Inc has banned political ads in October 2019. Similarly, Alphabet Inc’s Google has said, it would “stop letting advertisers target election ads using data such as public voter records and general political affiliations”.
Other online platforms, including Spotify, TikTok and Pinterest, have also introduced similar bans.
Facebook plans on rolling out the expanded audience data features in the first quarter of this year and plans on deploying the political ads control features later this summer.
Facebook is also slated to introduce another feature which will allow users to stop seeing ads based on an advertiser’s “Custom Audience”; this feature will apply to all advertisements on its platform including political ads.
Facebook’s “Custom Audiences” feature allows advertisers to upload lists of personal data they maintain, like email addresses and phone numbers which Facebook then matches to user accounts and shows the advertiser’s content to those people.
Significantly, Facebook will not provide users a simpler, one tick option which turns off this feature, which means users will have to opt out of ads for every single advertiser, one by one, said Facebook’s spokesman.