Facebook users be warned: political ads are coming your way, and they’re coming for blood.
As if televised news wasn’t dividing enough, we now the blessed social media. An online cornucopia of people’s opinions, push notifications, and worst of all: fake news. No matter which side of the political spectrum you’re on, it’s easy to find yourself the target of harsh, misleading, and sometimes downright false advertisements targeting a political figure or party. As we near one of the most important Presidential elections of our lifetime, these ads are a party’s most powerful weapon when in taking down their opponent.
I specifically mention Facebook due to their lack of effort when it comes to preventing the spread misinformation in the first place. They have previously declined to remove false and misleading political ads from their platform as recently as this year, citing that ‘they didn’t feel that “decisions about political ads should be made by private companies.”’
Not even if they’re outright lies.
Other platforms like Twitter have taken preventative steps to police false information people are sharing on their platform, even making the decision last year to ban political advertising altogether. Google also took a stand, restricting the ‘micro-targeting of political ads on certain products.’
Four for you Glen Coco, you go Glen Coco.
In an effort to make things better—or act like they’re trying to—Mark Zuckerberg announced today via Facebook post that they are going to ‘block new political and issue ads during the final week of the campaign.’ Basically, in the week leading up to the election, neither party will be able to submit new advertisements, but will be able to continue running the ads they had already ran before this final week. According to Zuckerberg, these ads will ‘already be published transparently in their Ads Library’ so that anyone like ‘fact-checkers and journalists, can scrutinize them.’
This seems all fine and dandy, doesn’t it? Well maybe, but what isn’t fine and dandy is that Facebook will still continue to allow these groups who have bought ads to adjust who they are targeting—even during this final week they speak of.
Close but no cigar, Mark. There’s nothing we can do to change Facebook’s decision, but something we can do is remain vigilant and try our best to recognize when information may need a second opinion no matter which candidate we support. If you’re skeptical of information, like this:
Or if an image seems a little too on-brand for your lifestyle, like this:
…then maybe it’s time to log off and do a little research. Whatever your political preference may be, whoever you’re planning on giving your vote to, we’re not here to judge—just to help you realize that fake news is not only convincing, it’s dangerous. Especially when a platform as big as Facebook allows it.