Help WIRED Track How Political Ads Target You on Facebook

WIRED | 10/12/2018 | Caitlin Kelly
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With a user base of more than 2 billion people who can be chopped and sorted by almost any conceivable data point—men ages 21 to 45 living in the United States who are parents to preteens and like Fortnite; women with a bachelor’s degree who are away from family and whose friends are recently engaged—Facebook advertising is an incredibly powerful tool. Much attention has been paid to how foreign influence operations used the platform to target and manipulate US citizens in 2016, and with good reason. But that election also demonstrated that political campaigns and local organizations can take advantage of these features. Regulations around political ads on the web has been uneven at best. And thanks to microtargeting, today’s advertisements can be that much harder to track.

Amid backlash and increased scrutiny, not to mention the threat of regulation, Facebook and other social media companies have taken some steps to increase transparency around ads, especially political ones, but they’re still an enormous target for bad actors. Even today, Facebook announced it was removing hundreds of pages and accounts, run by US citizens, that used “sensational political content” to drive traffic to their websites in ways that “have consistently broken our rules against spam and coordinated inauthentic behavior.” The New York Times reports that at least one of the pages, Right Wing News, used Facebook ads.

Weeks - Elections - Looming - Ways - Advertising

With just a few weeks left before the midterm elections, and 2020 looming after that, the many ways in which political advertising on Facebook can shape our society—whether it’s a grassroots campaign rallying supporters in innovative new ways, or clickbait farms adding fuel to the partisan fire for a quick buck—demands further exploration.

That’s why WIRED is partnering with ProPublica, the award-winning news nonprofit, on their multi-newsroom project to collect and analyze political ads targeted to Facebook...
(Excerpt) Read more at: WIRED
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