Are algorithms out of control? Facebook's new regulation on political ads

BY  | FROM  | 2017-09-25 14:16

Facebook's recent anti-Semitic ad scandal is the latest blow for the tech giant on political advertising, which has been in the spotlight following the reportedly Russia-linked political ads incident during the U.S. presidential campaign.

Last week, U.S. nonprofit organization ProPublica revealed that Facebook enabled advertisers to reach almost 2,300 people who showed interest in "Jew Haters." Facebook later removed the anti-Semitic categories created by an algorithm and said it would find ways to fix the problem.

In a Facebook post, the network's chief operating officer Sheryl Sandberg said: "Seeing those words made me disgusted and disappointed - disgusted by these sentiments and disappointed that our systems allowed this."

In a live address on his Facebook profile Thursday, founder Mark Zuckerberg promised to make political advertising more transparent on his network.

"Not only will you have to disclose which page paid for an ad, but we will also make it so you can visit an advertiser's page and see the ads they're currently running to any audience on Facebook," Zuckerberg said.

The transcript post on his Facebook account has already received 6,500 comments, with mixed responses.

Facebook user Luke Shepard said the transparency of ad buys is fantastic. Om Malik wondered how for a company that has touted micro-targeting as a core competency that none of this was foreseen. Sonil Kancha asked if politics can be left out of Facebook, with the social media giant instead focusing on social interaction, commercial growth and entertainment.

Earlier this month, Facebook said that about 470 Russia-related accounts paid for advertisements that spread fake or misleading information to influence public opinion during the 2016 U.S. presidential campaign.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said Friday that Russia has no links to the political advertisements on Facebook.

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