Tuesday July 23, 2019
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How Political Ads Work, A Guide by Facebook and Google

Ohio digital consultant Kevin Bingle said his team reviewed opponents on Facebook's database daily to take advantage of gaps in their strategy.

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A Google logo is displayed at the entrance to the internet based company's offices in Toronto. VOA

Public databases that shine a light on online political ads – launched by Facebook and Google before Tuesday’s U.S. elections – offer the public the first broad view of how quickly the companies yank advertisements that break their rules.

The databases also provided campaigns unprecedented insight into opponents’ online marketing, enabling them to capitalize on weaknesses, political strategists told Reuters.

Facebook and Google, owned by Alphabet, introduced the databases this year to give details on some political ads bought on their services, a response to U.S. prosecutors’ allegations that Russian agents who deceptively interfered in the 2016 election purchased ads from the companies.

Russia denies the charges. American security experts said the Russians changed tactics this year.

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Google CEO Sundar Pichai speaks at the Google I/O conference in Mountain View, Calif

Reuters found that Facebook and Google took down 436 ads from May through October related to 34 U.S. House of Representatives contests declared competitive last month by RealClearPolitics, which tracks political opinion polls.

Of the 258 removed ads with start and end dates, ads remained on Google an average of eight days and Facebook 15 days, according to data Reuters collected from the databases.

Based on ranges in the databases, the 436 ads were displayed up to 20.5 million times and cost up to $582,000, amounting to a fraction of the millions of dollars spent online in those races.

Asked for comment, Google said it is committed to bringing greater transparency to political ads. Facebook said the database is a way the company is held accountable, “even if it means our mistakes are on display.”

In some cases, the companies’ automated scans did not identify banned material such as hateful speech or images of poor quality before ads went live.

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Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg testifies before a House Energy and Commerce hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington about the use of Facebook data to target American voters in the 2016 election and data privacy. VOA

Ads that are OK when scanned may also become noncompliant if they link to a website that later breaks down.

Google’s database covers $54 million in spending by U.S. campaigns since May and Facebook $354 million, according to their databases.

Facebook’s figure is larger partly because its database includes ads not only from federal races but also for state contests, national issues and get-out-the-vote efforts.

The databases generally do not say why a particular ad was removed, and only Facebook shows copies of yanked ads.

The American Conservative Union political organization, which had 136 ads removed through Sunday on Facebook, said some commercials contained a brief shot of comedian Kathy Griffin holding a decapitated head meant to portray U.S. President Donald Trump.

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This photo shows a Facebook app icon on a smartphone in New York. VOA

Removing the bloody image resolved the violation for sensational content, and the organization said it had no qualms about Facebook’s screening.

Some removals were errors. The Environmental Defense Action Fund said Facebook’s automated review wrongly misclassified one of its ads as promoting tobacco.

Ryan Morgan, whose political consulting firm Veracity Media arranged attack ads for a U.S. House race in Iowa, said Google barred those mentioning “white supremacy” until his team could explain the ads advocated against the racist belief.

Five campaign strategists told Reuters they adjusted advertising tactics in recent weeks based on what the databases revealed about opponents’ spending on ads and which genders, age groups and states saw the messages.

Also Read: Democrats Regain Majority In The House Of Representatives This U.S. Midterm Election

Ohio digital consultant Kevin Bingle said his team reviewed opponents on Facebook’s database daily to take advantage of gaps in their strategy.

Morgan said his team tripled its online ad budget to $600,000 for a San Francisco affordable housing tax after Facebook’s database showed the other side’s ads were reaching non-Californians.

That political intelligence “let us know that digital was a place we could run up the score,” he said. (VOA)

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Here’s Why Facebook can Still be Your Best Friend

And students with low self-efficacy have more to gain from prioritising Facebook use over traditional media when making new college friends

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FILE - The logo for Facebook appears on screens at the Nasdaq MarketSite, in New York's Times Square, March 29, 2018. VOA

Transitioning from high school to college can be stressful for some students and to maintain connections with pre-college friends and form new relationships, Facebook can still be your best friend.

A new research led by Indian-origin researcher Surinder Kahai reveals that Facebook can help college students maintain relationships with high-school friends and assist them in creating new friendships.

The study, published in the International Journal of Human-Computer Studies, shows that when it comes to making new friends, those with higher confidence in their social skills have less to gain from relying on Facebook, while people with lower confidence in their social skills have more to gain from the social media platform.

“Transitioning from high school to college can be stressful for many students. To help them adjust to life in college, it is critical for them to maintain connections with pre-college friends and to form new relationships,” said Kahai, Associate Professor at Binghamton University in the US.

For the study, the researchers focused on first semester college students by asking undergraduate college students, mostly sophomores, about their experiences with different channels used to maintain and grow relationships.

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FILE – A man poses for a photo in front of a computer showing Facebook ad preferences in San Francisco, California, March 26, 2018. VOA

Accounting for Facebook’s effect on relationships versus the impact of more traditional media face-to-face interaction, phone calls, etc., researchers also incorporated how each student’s social self-efficacy like confidence in their social skills affected the use of both Facebook and traditional media to build and maintain relationships.

In terms of how “best” to use Facebook to maintain and build new relationships, some of the findings include; Facebook can compensate for the lower use of traditional media to maintain relationships with close friends from high school.

According to researchers, Facebook works best when supplementing traditional media when it comes to making new college friends, students with high self-efficacy have more to gain from prioritising traditional media over Facebook when making new college friends.

Also Read: Apple Refreshes its Operating Systems for iPhones, Watches

And students with low self-efficacy have more to gain from prioritising Facebook use over traditional media when making new college friends.

“New college students often stress about trying to maintain their high school friendships while struggling to develop new ones. These findings can help counselors advise students on how to balance the use of social media and traditional media to enhance their new and older friendships,” Kahai said. (IANS)