Ben Bold
Jan 13, 2020

British advertisers condemn Facebook's refusal to ban or fact-check micro-targeted political ads

Google and Twitter have both made moves to stem lies in political advertising.

British advertisers condemn Facebook's refusal to ban or fact-check micro-targeted political ads

The UK's Institute of Practitioners in Advertising (IPA) has expressed its disappointment at Facebook’s decision not to ban political ads that use micro-targeting and spurious claims to sway voter opinion – a practice that the industry body says is "open to abuse and has been demonstrably abused in the recent past".

The retort comes as Facebook doubled down on its refusal to restrict untruthful or deceitful political ads and micro-targeting. The platform said it had decided not to tackle how ads target specific groups of people – some of which may be especially vulnerable, credulous or susceptible to misinformation. Neither will Facebook fact-check these ads.

The IPA has condemned the move, arguing that "advertising technology designed for the promotion of products and services has been weaponised for political messaging".

Nigel Gwilliam, the IPA’s director of media affairs, said: "In a democracy, political ideas need to be aired and debated in the public square. Micro-targeting has the potential to subvert this, especially when combined with the absence of fact-checking or any other message regulation."


The Advertising Standards Authority’s codes do not cover political advertising in the UK and the IPA said the lack of regulation was a "clear and present threat to politics in democracies".

"While we support regulation of political messaging, we do not believe this will be introduced in the foreseeable future," Gwilliam added. "As such, we have made and continue to make two conjoined calls."

The IPA is calling for transparency in online political ads as the "next best thing to regulation" and wants a "publicly accessible, platform-neutral, machine-readable register of all political ads and ad data online". It is also calling for a ban on micro-targeted political ads online.

"If you don’t limit the granularity of targeting, especially in a world of growing automation/AI, you risk a sheer volume of different messages overwhelming any transparency measure like the proposed register," Gwilliam explained.

Facebook said last week that rather than tackle the issue head on, it would instead give users access to so-called "transparency features" that allow them to limit the number of political ads they see. These will be activated over the coming months.

In spite of attestations by Facebook that this stance reflects its belief in free speech and political debate, it is accused by critics of being commercially minded and damaging to democracy.

Meanwhile, the social media behemoth is increasingly at odds with the position of other digital giants. In November, Google said it would limit political ad-targeting to broader demographic groups based on criteria such as gender, age and post code (a move welcomed by the IPA), while Twitter banned political ads from its platform outright in October.

Source:
Campaign UK

Related Articles

Just Published

3 hours ago

Performance marketing, is it really effective?

Following Airbnb's move to shift spend out of performance, five performance-marketing experts from across Asia-Pacific discuss where the brand may have gone wrong and argue the value of balancing performance with brand.

4 hours ago

DDB's hard-driving culture delivers wins, but at ...

AGENCY REPORT CARD: A dogged pursuit of pitches pays off in terms of new business, but our concerns about a lack of innovation and the network’s employee churn remain.

4 hours ago

Let’s call time on the masculinity of beer

It's no wonder many women don't feel beer is a drink for them when much of the sector's most famous advertising—including for AB InBev's brands—has been so geared towards men.

4 hours ago

Standard Chartered to use Dentsu Curate to drive ...

This win follows a pilot project across 30 markets using a made-in-APAC programmatic solution, which resulted in a more than twofold improvement in both campaign efficiency and video completion rate, according to the agency.