2016 was a bad year for Facebook as it struggled to keep up with a tidal wave of fake news and sketchy political advertising. And as it’s tried to contain the problem, mostly what’s happened is revelations that it’s much worse than we thought. Now, problems Facebook claimed were addressed are cropping up again, and clearly haven’t been fixed at all.
Among other solutions, Facebook promised to make it easier for users to find and call out sketchy advertisers of all stripes, including their physical locations. Turns out, according to the Daily Beast, that Facebook hasn’t implemented those features yet, and shadowy political action groups are acting anonymously while they still can:
The Facebook CEO promised to “roll this out over the coming months, and we will work with others to create a new standard for transparency in online political ads.” None of those features are currently accessible to Alabamians being served ads by both pro-Roy Moore PACs, like America First Action, and, ostensibly, groups backing Democratic candidate Doug Jones, such as one called Alabama Values.
Apparently, Facebook is still testing these features; a spokesman pointed the Daily Beast to a blog post detailing that, currently, this is being tried out in Canada:
We know how important it is to our community that we get this feature just right — and so we’re first rolling it out in only one country. Testing in one market allows us to learn the various ways an entire population uses the feature at a scale that allows us to learn and iterate. Starting in Canada was a natural choice as this effort aligns with our election integrity work already underway there.
To be fair, there’s only so far Facebook can go, here. It can tell you the name and address on the check that bought the ad, but there are plenty of legal ways for foreign donors to put money into an election. That said, the Daily Beast does note that the pro-Roy-Moore PAC that it themes the article around is getting obliterated by a far more direct form of democracy: Alabamians showing up on its Facebook page and raking it over the coals.
(via The Daily Beast)