The IPA has expressed its reservations regarding Facebook’s announcement that it is to allow users to switch off political ads on its platform in the US.
Says Nigel Gwilliam, Director of Media Affairs, IPA:
"This roll-out is currently US-only in the run up to their Presidential election in November, extending to other countries later which provides an opportunity to observe how it actually plays out.
"In the interim, we have reservations about a programme that is largely predicated on a conscious action to opt-out. Especially in reaction to political ad messages that can effectively say almost anything in the absence of regulation or factchecking.
"How will different cohorts react to this? Does political affiliation and/or education, literacy level, age, gender, etc affect opt-out levels? Could this programme inadvertently favour one side or promote polarisation? Further, could opt-out be weaponised? You could target cohorts affiliated to your opposition intended to aggravate them to inadvertently turn ALL political ads off. This may sound farfetched but unforeseen consequences from online political advertising are not unprecedented.
Ultimately this move still doesn’t address our fundamental issues with online political advertising in relation to both the messages they serve and the methods in which they are served; in the absence of regulation, political ads can say whatever they like, and they can be served in a largely opaque manner.
"We therefore, once again, reiterate our two conjoined calls, for: