Facebook Will Test New Ad Transparency in Canada

Facebook will test its new advertising transparency features in Canada, an accountability initiative that is rolling out to users amidst public scrutiny.

The social media giant made the announcement only days before Facebook, Twitter and Google will testify to Congress about facilitating foreign interference from Russia in the U.S. election.

Facebook said Canada will be the testing grounds for the transparency features next month, an update that enables users to see what ads are being run on any page on Facebook, Instagram and Messenger. The new information will be accessible through a “View Ads” button.

This function will roll out to the U.S. by next summer, ahead of the country’s midterm elections in November. It will also be released to others countries around the same time, but Facebook did not detail which countries or how many.

“When it comes to advertising on Facebook, people should be able to tell who the advertiser is and see the ads they’re running, especially for political ads,” said Rob Goldman, Facebook’s VP of ads in a company blog post.

Goldman said the transparency keep advertisers accountable for who they say they are and what they say to different groups. As such, all ads will be required to be associated with a Facebook page.

While the new information will be available for all advertisements on the platform, Facebook will be more strict when it comes to federal-election related ads. The social media platform will require “thorough documentation” from advertisers who must also publicize who paid for their ad.

“As part of the documentation process, advertisers may be required to identify that they are running election-related advertising and verify both their entity and location,” said Goldman.

“For political advertisers that do not proactively disclose themselves, we are building machine learning tools that will help us find them and require them to verify their identity,” he added.

CEO Mark Zuckerberg said in a Facebook post the company is also building an archive of both current and historical federal-election ads.

“For political advertisers, we’re working on a tool that will let you search an archive of ads they’ve run in the past. You’ll also be able to see how much an advertiser paid, the type of people who saw the ads and the number of impressions,” he wrote.

The news follows Facebook’s September announcement about how the social platform is working to protect the integrity of elections. Zuckerberg disclosed last month that ads linked to fake accounts were bought by Russian operatives in attempts to influence the election.