Just over a year ago, Facebook announced it would create a database of advertising and make it available for the benefit of researchers, journalists, and the public. After a successful test in Canada, Facebook introduced the archive to the United States earlier this year, and plans to introduce a modified version in the United Kingdom shortly. Of all the steps Facebook has taken in the wake of the 2016 election to improve trust in the platform, the political ads archive has been among the most effective. It allows anyone to see what ads are running, how much money is being spent on them, and who is being targeted by them. It also requires anyone who wants to buy political ads to register with a government ID, using a code mailed to their address. Collectively, the ads tell a story about how people are using Facebook to influence behavior, while taking steps to ensure advertisers are who they say they are. Facebook has said that it plans to improve the archive over time. And in the weeks before the US election, some significant flaws have appeared. In The Atlantic, Alexis Madrigal finds a loophole that allows advertisers to obscure their identities… Read full this story
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