Facebook has thrown a tantrum, because an ad transparency project keeps pointing out the failings in Facebook’s political ads campaign.
Using a browser add-in, it looks at what adverts are shown to the user and reports the information back to the research team at NYU. The team then correlates the information against Facebook’s own information about who paid for the ad and how much and how often they were shown.
The NYU team says that their AdObservatory tool provides more information than Facebook’s own Ad Library system.
“We understand the intent behind your tool. However, the browser plugin scrapes information in violation of our terms, which are designed to protect people’s privacy.”
It seems the researchers aren’t backing down. On October 22, they published the latest research showing 12 political ads that had slipped under the radar as non-political on Facebook, some of which are still running.
“Instead of correcting its own documented failings and living up to its commitments, Facebook is now demanding that the NYU researchers halt their research,” said Jesse Littlewood, the VP for Campaigns for Common Cause.
“This is an outrageous act of hypocrisy,” he went on. “Rather than combat the rampant disinformation and hate on its platform, Facebook has decided to go after the people who are helping voters understand who is trying to influence their votes.”
As the browser add-in has been manually installed by people partaking in the research project, I don’t see that Facebook has a leg to stand on.