Facebook will start tracking political ads around the world
Facebook is preparing for important international elections this year in Europe, India and Israel.
Facebook isn’t just worried about the influence it might have on U.S. elections.
Facebook is rolling out versions of its political ad archive to international markets ahead of elections this year in Europe, India, Ukraine and Israel, the company announced Monday.
The ad archive, which is a “publicly searchable library” of all political ads on the service, will include information like who paid for an ad, how many people it reached, and demographic information about which groups the ad was targeted to. Facebook rolled out a similar archive last May before the 2018 U.S. midterm elections, and has other archives for political ads in the U.K. and Brazil.
Facebook says it’s planning “a global expansion” of the ad archive product by the end of June.
While most of Facebook’s users won’t spend time searching through these political ad libraries, they are an important part of the company’s effort to avoid another scenario like the 2016 U.S. elections, in which Russian trolls secretly used Facebook, including Facebook ads, to sow division among voters. It’s very possible Facebook, and some of its tech peers, may be regulated as a result.
It’s also a reminder that Facebook has the potential to play a massive role in democratic elections globally, not just in the United States. India, which is Facebook’s largest country by total users, will hold its elections in April and May of this year. Europe will also hold elections for the European Parliament in late May.
Facebook is also expanding its “war room” effort. Ahead of the U.S. midterms, Facebook created a “war room” to centralize employees from different teams so that they could more quickly respond to issues of misinformation or voter suppression.
Facebook will create what it is calling “regional operations centers” in Dublin and Singapore to help do something similar for international elections.