Facebook and Twitter Are Debuting Tools to See Who’s Behind Every Single Ad Running on Their Platforms

The companies are trying to fix problems related to political advertising

The social platforms want to help improve transparency. Getty Images, Twitter
Headshot of Marty Swant

To help improve ad transparency, Facebook and Twitter are each rolling out their own respective tools so people can see all of the ads served to them.

Just minutes apart, the companies today announced how they plan to help users better understand who is buying ads on their platforms and who sees them. On Facebook, users will be able to see ads bought on a page by clicking on the Info and Ads tab. The feature—which will showcase active ads running across Facebook, Instagram, Messenger and Facebook’s Audience Network of publisher websites—will also include demographic and ad spend info on political ads.

“I have yet to see where transparency didn’t change behavior,” Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg said during a press event announcing the news.

Meanwhile, Twitter’s tool, called the Ads Transparency Center, will be used in a similar way to how users already search for tweets. It will include all ad campaigns that have run within the past week.

For U.S. political advertisers, the Ads Transparency Center will also include billing information, how much money was spent on the campaign, impression data for each tweet and details about the demographic that was targeted.

The news is the latest effort by Twitter and Facebook to fix a number of problems related to political advertising ahead of the 2018 midterm elections this fall. Last month, Twitter announced additional requirements for advertisers buying political ads, such as verifying a buyer’s identity beforehand and including additional labels that explains an ad is political.

Twitter’s feature also won’t be limited to Twitter users. According to Bruce Falck, general manager of Twitter’s revenue product and engineering group, the tool won’t require a Twitter account and will be available even while logged out. While the tool is rolling out globally, only ads that fall under Twitter’s new policies for U.S. federal election ads will be included in the beginning.

“We will be launching a specific issue ads policy in the future, as well as enhancements to the Ads Transparency Center itself,” Falck wrote in a blog post. “In addition, we are examining how to adapt and internationalize both political campaigning and issue ads policies. We are doing our due diligence to get this right and will have more updates to come.”

While the updates could help make the platforms more transparent for users looking for more info, Facebook and Twitter are still relying on their user base to even think to look for the information.

“Even here, it’s not just about transparency and control,” David Fischer, Facebook’s vice president of business and marketing partnerships, said in an interview on Tuesday. “It’s about simplicity, too … But the reality is most people didn’t know it was there. Maybe we didn’t make it as straightforward as it could have been. And so part of what we’re doing is stepping forward.”

@martyswant martin.swant@adweek.com Marty Swant is a former technology staff writer for Adweek.
Publish date: June 28, 2018 https://stage.adweek.com/digital/facebook-and-twitter-are-debuting-tools-to-see-every-single-ad-running-on-their-platforms/ © 2020 Adweek, LLC. - All Rights Reserved and NOT FOR REPRINT