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Facebook Rolls Out New Tool that Lets Journalists Examine Political Ads

It also shows demographics of people reached, including age, gender and location

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New Facebook tool lets journalists scrutinise political ads. Pixabay
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With midterm elections in the US and general elections in several other countries knocking at the door, Facebook has rolled out a new tool that makes it easier for researchers and journalists to scrutinise Facebook ads related to politics or issues of national importance.

“We’re making advertising more transparent to help prevent abuse on Facebook, especially during elections,” Rob Leathern, Facebook’s Director of Product Management said in a statement on Wednesday.

Facebook said its new tool, Ad Archive API, would initially be available to a group of publishers, academics and researchers in the US before opening it up more broadly.

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Facebook, social media. Pixabay

“Input from this group will also form the basis of an Archive report that will be available starting in September,” Leathern said.

The API offers ad creative, start and end date, and performance data, including total spend and impressions for ads.

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It also shows demographics of people reached, including age, gender and location.

“We’re greatly encouraged by trends and insights that watchdog groups, publishers and academics have unearthed since the archive launched in May. We believe this deeper analysis will increase accountability for both Facebook and advertisers,” Leathern said. (IANS)

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Unable To Find The Source of Fake Accounts: Facebook

Sample images provided by Facebook showed posts on a wide range of issues.

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Lexi Sturdy, election war room lead, sits at her desk in the war room, where Facebook monitors election-related content on the platform, in Menlo Park, California. VOA

Facebook said Tuesday it had been unable to determine who was behind dozens of fake accounts it took down shortly before the 2018 U.S. midterm elections.

“Combined with our takedown last Monday, in total we have removed 36 Facebook accounts, 6 Pages, and 99 Instagram accounts for coordinated inauthentic behavior,” Nathaniel Gleicher, head of cybersecurity policy, wrote on the company’s blog.

At least one of the Instagram accounts had well over a million followers, according to Facebook.

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A man works in the war room, where Facebook monitors election-related content, in Menlo Park, Calif. VOA

A website that said it represented the Russian state-sponsored Internet Research Agency claimed responsibility for the accounts last week, but Facebook said it did not have enough information to connect the agency that has been called a troll farm.

“As multiple independent experts have pointed out, trolls have an incentive to claim that their activities are more widespread and influential than may be the case,” Gleicher wrote.

Sample images provided by Facebook showed posts on a wide range of issues. Some advocated on behalf of social issues such as women’s rights and LGBT pride, while others appeared to be conservative users voicing support for President Donald Trump.

Also Read: The Year Of Women in U.S. Politics

The viewpoints on display potentially fall in line with a Russian tactic identified in other cases of falsified accounts. A recent analysis of millions of tweets by the Atlantic Council found that Russian trolls often pose as members on either side of contentious issues in order to maximize division in the United States. (VOA)