Facebook’s Plan to Make Ads More Transparent Already Has a Big Hole In It
Facebook’s new push to be more transparent have already hit a snag. The company recently introduced a new tool that lets users easily see any ads a particular Facebook Page is running, but advertisers have already found a way around it.
The social media giant is in the midst of dealing with a number of crises over privacy, security, and bad faith use of the tools on its platform. To deal with one of the bigger looming problems — bad actors potentially using the social network’s ad network to covertly influence elections just as the Russia-linked Internet Research Agency did in 2016 — Facebook came up with a solution that emphasized transparency.
Facebook rolled out the Info and Ads section on Facebook Pages in June. With the new tool in place, anyone can now go to any Facebook Page and click on Info and Ads tab in the Page’s menu to get a full view of all that Page’s active Facebook ads as well as all the posts the Page is spending money to promote. Before this feature was launched, this information wasn’t centralized, with many ads only visible if you happened to be one of the users that the ad was targeting.
Some Facebook Page administrators have argued against the changes in private Facebook groups. They say that competitors can use the info that Facebook’s transparency policy provides — from its sales pitch to the products they promote — to reverse-engineer their marketing strategy. For example, clicking on the Info and Ads tab on a politician’s Page could unveil the types off people they’re targeting and how they’re trying to reach them.
Unfortunately for the Page administrators, there are no exceptions to the rule — Facebook wants to make all ads, and the identity of who’s paying for them, available to the public, and there’s no way to remove the Info and Ads tab.
Until now, that is.