Social Media Ads Are Becoming More Transparent

Facebook algorithm

Social networking sites such as Facebook and Twitter have increased their transparency when it comes to paid advertisements.

In light of the recent data scandal, the two social media giants are providing more information than ever before in an effort to enhance their user experience, as well as develop – or potentially mend – the relationship they have with their users.

So, what’s changed on Facebook?

Facebook has vowed to give “people more information about any organisation and the ads it’s currently running”. Developers believe this will result in increased accountability for advertisers while preventing abuse on Facebook.

Now, users will be able to discover the following information from businesses on Facebook:

  • Active Ads – That’s right, even users who you are not targeting with your ads will be able to view your active promotions. Any adverts an organisation is running on Facebook, Messenger or Instagram can be found by logging into Facebook, visiting said organisation’s Page and selecting “Info and Ads”. Users will then be able to flag and report anything they believe is suspicious.
  • Recent name changes – Under the same section, users can now view any recent name changes to a Page.
  • Page creation date – The date your organisation’s Facebook Page was created is also accessible to all users.

Facebook claims more Page information will be added to this list in the coming weeks.

These updates reflect the more transparent user experience Facebook is striving towards, which is echoed in minor touches you may not have even noticed. One of these, for example, is the fact that they are now encouraging Facebook Group members to “see who’s there” by actively inviting them to scroll through the list of other members, admins and moderators.

Why have these changes been made?

In their recent Newsroom announcement, a Facebook spokesperson stated these changes – as well as further planned alterations – were made due to “bad actors” misusing the social network’s products.

This has always been the case. In the very early days of Facebook’s ad platform, the very affiliate marketers who had helped develop the self-serve ad “tool” so effectively began to try anything they could to get a lead.

This pushed Facebook into tightening its ad guidelines on an almost daily basis back in 2009/10, to try to prevent the multitude of weight loss, muscle gain, quick-buck-scheme campaigns that flooded onto users’ newsfeeds. It has always been and will continue to be a user-focused environment, in spite of what some people think. Without users, Facebook is just an empty website.

The update is concluded with the following statement: “By shining a bright light on all ads, as well as the Pages that run them, we’ll make it easier to root out abuse – helping to ensure that bad actors are held accountable for the ads they run.”

What’s changed on Twitter?

On the same day Facebook announced its transparency updates, Twitter did the same.

After recently introducing their Political Campaigning Ads Policy, those behind the scenes at Twitter have continued their efforts with a new Ads Transparency Center.

The Center “allows anyone across the globe to view ads that have been served on Twitter”. There is a particular emphasis on US federal election campaigns, which is a response to recent allegations surrounding Donald Trump’s presidency and Russia.

Are Twitter’s changes similar to Facebook’s?

In short, yes. By accessing Twitter’s Ads Transparency Center, users will be able to search for specific Twitter handles and see “the creative for all ad campaigns that have run within the last 7 days from that handle.”

Users will be able to report an ad and, if Twitter deems it inappropriate or potentially harmful, it’ll be taken down from the site and the account will face suspension.

The transparency goes even further when it comes to Twitter’s Political Campaigning Policy, which gives users the opportunity to see US political advertisers’ billing information, ad spend and impression data per tweet. Each of these accounts will also have a visual badge and disclaimer information on promoted content.

It’s important to note that no login or Twitter account is required to access the Ads Transparency Center.

What else is Twitter planning to increase transparency?

The social network announced in its blog post that they will be launching an even more specific ads policy, as well as various updates and enhancements to its new Ads Transparency Center.

“We stay committed to iterating and improving our work in this space, and doing what’s right for our community,” it concluded.

Are you happy with these changes?

Have Facebook and Twitter’s recent efforts calmed any nerves regarding your personal data and the power of social media advertising? Were your nerves in need of calming?

We recently released guides on the data Facebook keeps about you, and how you can keep your personal information secure. For more information, feel free to send your questions to us via Facebook and Twitter!

Oliver Wilkinson
Content Marketing Exec
Knapton Wright