Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey recently took to social media, and announced that the microblogging site will ban political advertising of any form/manner. That put other networks — mostly Google and Facebook — under pressure to act and curb political ads. Looks like that pressure is finally resulting in some progress. A report from Reuters now states, that tech behemoths Google and Facebook are considering to incorporate new rules to curb micro targeted political ads.
Political advertising pundits have often shown concern towards certain messages which could impact the democratic structure by biasing certain demographics and their political opinions. In short, these are christened as micro targeted political ads, since they are targeted towards a particular section.
The chair of the US Federal Election Commission, Ellen Weintraub has called Facebook to put an end to this. Favoring this, hundreds of Facebook employees wrote to CEO Mark Zuckerberg, to amend the policies on handling ads, in order to curb micro targeting.
The employees wrote;
“The risk with allowing this is that it’s hard for people in the electorate to participate in the ‘public scrutiny’ that we’re saying comes along with political speech. These ads are often so micro-targeted that the conversations on our platforms are much more siloed than on other platforms. Currently we restrict targeting for housing and education and credit verticals due to a history of discrimination. We should extend similar restrictions to political advertising.”
While Facebook has made nothing official about the requests made, NBC News has reported that the CEO is considering to limit the ability of electoral candidates to instigate narrow group of voters.
Further, the Wall Street Journal has reported that Google is also working on the same about its political ad policy. The company will bring changes that “could be related to what type of audience targeting the company allows ad buyers to place.”
On the subject, the chief of Open Knowledge Foundation, Catherine Stihler, said;
“It’s encouraging that online giants are starting to take their responsibilities seriously and recognizing the need to act to stop the spread of disinformation.
But this can’t just be left to social media platforms to take action by themselves – our analogue electoral laws need to catch up with the digital age and ensure we build a fair, free and open future.”
Its unclear what the changes will be and to what degree these companies will be curbing the micro-targeting, it does bring a ray of hope of safer and unbiased elections.