The six ways Facebook employees want to fix its political ad problem

Mark Zuckerberg faces questioning about Facebook’s political ads Capitol Hill.
Mark Zuckerberg faces questioning about Facebook’s political ads Capitol Hill.
Image: AP Photo/Susan Walsh
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Facebook’s political ads should be more obvious, less targeted, and more truthful–so says a letter signed by more than 250 employees inside Facebook itself.

Posted on an internal company website and obtained by the New York Times, the letter lays out six suggestions for improving the ads, including restrictions on microtargeting that campaigns use to show ads to very specific people. “Currently we restrict targeting for housing and education and credit verticals due to a history of discrimination,” the letter reads. “We should extend similar restrictions to political advertising.”

Another recommendation would make political ads visually distinct from other ads–especially given Facebook’s stance that political ads, unlike other ads, are allowed to contain misinformation and outright lies.

They also slam that okay-to-lie policy, saying political ads should be held to the same standards of truth the company applies to non-political ads.

“Free speech and paid speech are not the same thing,” the employees say.

Facebook also should enforce “silence periods” and prevent campaigning just before and during an election, the employees say, not only in places where such quiet times are observed, such as in India, Ireland, Israel, and Italy, but also as acts of self-imposed good faith for any election.

The employees round out their recommendations calling for spending caps on individual politicians and clearer political ad policies overall.


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