Amid growing questions about how it handles political advertisements and conversations, Facebook today announced that users in the United States (US) will be able to turn off political ads on the platform. The feature was first announced in January this year but is rolling it out to “some users” today and everyone in the US over the next week.
“Political ads play an important role in every election – and this year will be no exception. People have told us they want the option to see fewer political ads on Facebook and Instagram,” the company wrote in a blog post titled “Launching The Largest Voting Information Effort in US History”.
Not just political ads, Facebook users will also be able to turn off ads about social issues, Super PACs (Political Action Committee) or other organizations that come with the “Paid for by” political disclaimer that the company had introduced earlier this year. Of course, ads from electoral and political candidates are also included.
The feature is going to work on both Facebook and Instagram through each platform’s ad settings. “However, we know our system isn’t perfect. So, if you’ve selected this preference and still see an ad that you think is political, please click the upper right corner of the ad and report it to us,” the company added.
The company also said that while the US is the first country to get it, the feature will be coming to other countries where Facebook has enforcement on ads about social issues, elections and politics “later this fall”.
The company has been preparing for the US Presidential elections later this year. The company had come under fire for how it handled political advertising, fake news and more during the last elections. CEO Mark Zuckerberg has been in multiple Congressional hearings about the same, including the Cambridge Analytica debacle, which occurred in early 2018.
We have written to Facebook to confirm whether and when the feature will come to India. This story will be updated when we hear from them. At the moment, the company does verify advertisers who post ads on political and social issues on the platform. “All advertisers who want to run ads about social issues, elections or politics in India are required to complete the authorisations process,” the company says on its FAQ page.