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Facebook Creating ‘Inequalities’ Through Political Advertisements

"We need to recognise these limitations to think about whether and how existing reporting requirements need to change," Power added.

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Canada's Chief Public Health Officer Theresa Tam said health authorities needed to "up our game," adding that she was working with Twitter, Facebook, Google and other tech companies. Pixabay

As more and more political parties advertise on Facebook to reach out to maximum number of voters, the practice is creating new types of inequalities for campaigners and, in turn, posing new set of challenges for the regulators, warn researchers.

Traditional campaigning regulations are based on the theory that spending by each political party leads to a similar result.

For example, if political parties spent the same amount on leaflets, the literature would reach a similar number of people.

However, this cannot apply to Facebook advertising where the impact is dependent on the audience the advertiser wants to reach, argues Katharine Dommett from the University of Sheffield and Sam Power from the University of Exeter.

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The findings showed that regulation must also take into account how Facebook algorithms mean the same advertising spend has different results.
VOA

“This means different spend will have different results. Adverts in a marginal constituency will be more expensive, as will adverts that are directed at an audience that is in high demand from advertisers,” the researchers said in a paper published in the journal Political Quarterly.

For example, in India, even before elections were announced, in February itself, Facebook had run over 51,000 political ads in India worth more than Rs 10 crore and Google declared 800 ads bought for Rs 3.6 crore.

“As digital political campaigning grows, it is now increasingly difficult for existing regulators to capture the true extent of what is happening online, let alone whether these practices violate democratic norms,” suggested Dommett.

The unreliability of existing data on the use of Facebook needs to be acknowledged by regulators if campaigning spending is to be effectively interpreted and understood.

The findings showed that regulation must also take into account how Facebook algorithms mean the same advertising spend has different results.

facebook

However, this cannot apply to Facebook advertising where the impact is dependent on the audience the advertiser wants to reach, argues Katharine Dommett from the University of Sheffield and Sam Power from the University of Exeter. Pixabay

“Although Facebook has introduced some new transparency measures, nobody can fully monitor both how it is being used by political parties and the inequalities of access they can face,” said Power.

It is also not Facebook’s role to regulate elections.

Also Read: Update Alert! Google Features Voice-Enabled Driving Mode on Assistant

“We need to recognise these limitations to think about whether and how existing reporting requirements need to change,” Power added.

Regulators around the world need to think about how to monitor and respond to spending principles that are creating inequalities in the electoral market place. (IANS)

Next Story

Facebook Loses its Place in Glassdoor’s ‘Best Places to Work’ List

The Top-100 list by Glassdoor is for large organisations or those with at least 1,000 employees. It bases its rankings on eight factors, including work/life balance, compensation and benefits and senior management, among others

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Social Media, Facebook, Authenticity, Posts
The social media application, Facebook is displayed on Apple's App Store, July 30, 2019. VOA

Mired in several controversies amid break-up calls from the US lawmakers, Facebook has once again slipped off Glassdoor’s “Best Places to Work” list for a second year in a row.

Facebook dropped to 23rd best place to work, falling 16 spots from last year’s position, and its award score fell from a 4.5 to 4.4 out of a perfect 5, according to the annual listing by the leading job website.

The top three spots are occupied by leading growth platform HubSpot, management consultancy firm Bain & Company and market leader in electronic signatures DocuSign, respectively.

Among the tech companies, Google is at 11th spot, LinkedIn at 12th, Microsoft at 21st, Salesforce at 34th, VMware at 36th, Adobe at 39th, Cisco at 77th, Accenture at 83th and Apple at 84th (the Cupertino-based iPhone maker slipped 13 spots from the last year’s list).

Amazon once again failed to enter the list of 100.

For Facebook, 2019 has been bad on the diplomatic front. Several US Senators have called for breaking up the social network amid repeated data breaches and privacy violations on the platform.

Facebook
Facebook has failed to comply with the subpoenas for more information related to the ongoing privacy investigation into its alleged privacy violations and Cambridge Analytica, the media has reported. Pixabay

Democratic presidential candidate Senator Kamala Harris has stressed that authorities should take a serious look at breaking up Facebook as the social network platform is a “utility that has gone unregulated”.

Another Democratic 2020 candidate Senator Elizabeth Warren has also stressed upon the possibility of breaking up Facebook.

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, however, rejected these calls, saying the size of the social media giant was actually a benefit to its users and the security of the democratic process.

Zuckerberg has promised his employees to “fight and win” if Democratic presidential hopeful Warren wins the 2020 election and moves forward with her stated plan to break up the big US tech firms.

Also Read: Here’s What India’s Privacy Bill Requires from Social Media Firms

The company in July agreed to pay record-breaking $5 billion to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) as fine for users’ privacy violations in the Cambridge Analytica data scandal involving millions of users.

The US FTC is also investigating Facebook for potential monopolistic practices.

The Top-100 list by Glassdoor is for large organisations or those with at least 1,000 employees. It bases its rankings on eight factors, including work/life balance, compensation and benefits and senior management, among others. (IANS)