IT Troubleshooters

Instagram and Facebook won’t stop lies in political ads, but users will get more control

Facebook revealed a handful of updates it says will increase your control of political ads but stood firm on its policy to let politicians lie in ads on the social network.

Facebook plans to add a new control that will let people see fewer political and social issue ads on Facebook and Instagram. The feature will build on options already available in users’ Ad Preferences settings, Rob Leathern, Facebook’s director of product management, said in a blog post. Facebook said this option will show up in early summer in the US and will eventually expand to more locations.

Rather than make any wholesale changes to its policies on political ads, Facebook is instead giving its users more control over the ads they see. Similar to how you can currently tell Facebook you want to see less ads about certain topics, the company says it will add a new control to let you see fewer political and social issue ads across Facebook and Instagram. It plans to roll out the feature starting this summer in the US.

These latest changes highlight the challenges Facebook faces as misinformation surges ahead of the 2020 US elections. CEO Mark Zuckerberg and other executives have defended Facebook’s decision to let politicians lie in ads despite criticism from civil rights groups and Democratic lawmakers.

Facebook also compared its policies to recent moves made by Twitter and Google, saying it will not ban political ads or limit targeting. These tools are important to a “wide range of NGOs, non-profits, political groups and campaigns,” Leathern said.

Facebook also says it’s adding more features to its Ad Library, which lets anyone see the ads politicians and campaigns are running on Facebook. You’ll now be able to see how many people an advertiser was attempting to reach with a particular ad, and the library’s search and filtering tools will see improvements. Facebook says it plans to roll out these updates in the first quarter of this year.

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