IPA disappointed with Facebook’s decision

Facebook refuses to restrict political ad micro-targeting

The IPA has expressed its disappointment with Facebook’s decision not to ban the microtargeting of political messages on their site.

Says Nigel Gwilliam, Director of Media Affairs, IPA:

"Our IPA position continues to be that microtargeted online political advertising is open to abuse and has demonstrably been abused in the recent past.

"Advertising technology designed for the promotion of products and services has been weaponised for political messaging.

"In a democracy, political ideas need to be aired and debated in the public square. Microtargeting has the potential to subvert this, especially when combined with the absence of fact checking or any other message regulation.

"While the strict Advertising Standards Authority self-regulatory codes cover all product and service advertising in the UK, they do not cover political advertising.

"This is a clear and present threat to politics in democracies. While we support regulation of political messaging, we do not believe this will be introduced in the foreseeable future. As such we have made and continue to make two conjoined calls:

  1. We endorse transparency in the world of political advertising online as the next best thing to regulation. For this reason, we call for a publicly accessible, platform-neutral, machine-readable register of all political ads and ad data online.
  2. A ban on microtargeted political advertising online. If you don’t limit the granularity of targeting, especially in a world of growing automation/AI, you risk a sheer volume of different messages overwhelming any transparency measure like the proposed register."
Last updated 02 June 2020