Despite new rules, Facebook ads still lack transparency
Days before the US November 2018 midterm elections, ProPublica discovered that an organisation called Energy4US spent $20,000 to run ads on Facebook pushing conservatives to support the Trump administration's reversal of fuel emission standards. On closer scrutiny, Energy4US appeared to be a front organisation for the trade association American Fuel and Petrochemical Manufacturers, which numbers the world's largest oil companies among its members. Although Facebook's announced requirement that every political ad accurately represent the identity of the person or entity who paid for it had improved transparency overall, this was just one of many cases in which the site failed to check that the source of the ads was accurately identified. Most of the examples ProPublica found were related to the energy industry.
Writer: Jeremy B. Merrill