Saturday, April 07, 2018

Facebook Imposes New Restrictions on Ads and Popular Pages

Facebook announced measures to substantially broaden the scope of its ad vetting in response to the ongoing controversies surround data leaks and fake news. The social network will now require both political advertisers and "issues" advertisers (ads covering hot-button issues like immigration, gun control, etc.) to be verified. This is on top of pages with large numbers of followers to also be verified individuals or entities, and Facebook will make available to followers additional history regarding these pages.

These changes are first steps in helping to reduce the amount of manipulation and bad actors that can influence users on the site. In addition to verification, Facebook will provide data to the actual viewers that includes labeling, who paid for the ad and what sort of demographic it aimed to target. While it's relatively easy to determine what constitutes a political ad, it is not as simple to determine what constitutes issues ads.  But it seems Facebook is incentivized to take a more conservative approach to determining, not only to restore their reputation but also to help users realize how they are being targeted because it will change how we digest ads.

In general, these steps help to provide transparency in a market that really hasn't seen any to date. At the same time, it will make it much more difficult for companies like Cambridge Analytica to offer services they'd argue create value for advertisers. It will be interesting to see how these changes impact Facebook's ongoing share of digital advertising, but one can only hope that it sets a new standard that gets replicated across the industry.

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