It is now a common known fact that the Russians came into play during our presidential election in 2016. Some questioned their ability to hack our polls whereas others believe it was a combination of others factors. One thing we do know is that their influence was heavily felt across Facebook.
Russian Facebook Ads
Did you notice an influx of political Facebook ads during our recent election? Facebook recently disclosed that roughly $100,000 worth of political ads were purchased on Facebook during the 2016 election. It has also been revealed that that those political ads were purchased by fake accounts that were connected to a Russian troll operation. This release has opened the door for open government advocates and researchers to question if the platform is putting our democratic process at risk.
Risking Our Democratic Process
Now you may be question how Facebook Ads could put our democratic process at risk, so let me explain. These open government advocates and researchers study political ads on all different platforms. From TV ads to magazine ads, these guys are the expects when it comes to political ads. The recently told news sources that Facebook’s massive reach and lack of transparency about ads is what poses a risk. Highly targeted online ads have the potential to be “weaponized against liberal democracies”. This is because they do not meet the same levels of disclosure and viability as traditional radio, TV, and print ads.
“It removes our ability to have transparency into who is trying to influence our politics, and any accountability for that influence and it takes away from the capacity of the traditional organs of democracy — that being the press and regulators and other institutions — to figure out who is behind political messaging, particularly at crucial times” said Alex Howard, deputy director of the Sunlight Foundation, advocates for government transparency.