Facebook working on adding state, local election ads to archive

The world's largest social network is building an archive of federal election ads that have run on Facebook. But the database will go further than that.

Richard Nieva
Richard Nieva Former senior reporter
Richard Nieva was a senior reporter for CNET News, focusing on Google and Yahoo. He previously worked for PandoDaily and Fortune Magazine, and his writing has appeared in The New York Times, on CNNMoney.com and on CJR.org.
2 min read

Facebook's archive will include ads related to elections on the state and local level.

James Martin/CNET

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg announced new rules on Friday designed to bring more transparency to political ads as critics argue the social network was used as a tool for Russian meddling in last year's presidential election.  

One of the planned changes includes Facebook building an archive of federal election ads that have run on its network. The archive will provide information on how much money political advertisers spent for each ad, the number of impressions the ad garnered and demographic information about the audience the ad reached. The archive is intended to help counter complaints that Facebook hasn't done enough to curb misinformation distributed on its network, which reaches 2 billion people a month. 

But the archive won't only include federal election ads. Facebook also told CNET it's actively working on having the database include ads related to state and local elections in the US. The database is supposed to be up and running by the mid-term elections in November 2018.

After Facebook first announced the new ad rules, Democratic State Sen. Todd Kaminsky of New York, who authored a bill demanding more transparency around political ads, said the change didn't go far enough. 

 "I am disappointed that Facebook's policy changes do not impact state and local elections," he said in a statement earlier today. "As the victim of malicious, false, and anonymous political advertising, I know that voters deserve information on who is targeting them so that they can properly evaluate the messages they receive."

When Kaminsky first introduced his bill earlier this month, a Facebook spokesman said the company was "open to reviewing any reasonable proposals." Kaminsky didn't immediately respond to a request for comment about Facebook's decision to include state and local ads.

Facebook's policy comes days before the company, along with rivals Google and Twitter, are scheduled to testify in hearings before the Senate and House intelligence committees. On Wednesday, lawmakers will grill the tech giants on how Russian agents might have used their platforms to spread misinformation and meddle with last year's US presidential election.

Other changes announced by Facebook on Friday include a "paid for by" label that will accompany political ads, which people can tap on to view more information. While Facebook hasn't disclosed how many employees check ads today, Zuckerberg said Facebook is adding "thousands" of people to its ad review teams.

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