Mozilla Foundation along with other organizations, wrote an open letter to Facebook this week. The letter urges Facebook to do its part against political advertisement disinformation in 2019. Over the recent years, there have been multiple hearings and Facebook has refused to disclose proper transparency in their operations. They have made promises to EU lawmakers about controlling disinformation in political advertisements but have not really followed through. Citizens have a right to know information about the people running the advertisement campaigns.
But Facebook also blocked ad transparency tools last month. The letter states that by restricting ad transparency “you [Facebook] are undermining transparency, eliminating the choice of your users to install tools that help them analyse political ads, and wielding control over good faith researchers who try to review data on the platform.” The letter further mentions that just promises and press statements are not enough, real actions need to be taken by Facebook against such advertisements that affects voter choices.
They have asked Facebook to implement certain measures by April 1, 2019 in order to provide developers with sufficient time to create transparency tools before the elections. The measures are:
- An open Ad Archive API for advanced research of tools that analyze political ads.
- Clear distinguishment of political ads from content. Include sponsor identity and amount spent in all EU countries.
- Stop harassing good researchers who are building tools for greater transparency in Facebook advertisements
They also believe that Facebook and other similar platforms can play a positive role in enabling democracy. The letter is signed by companies like All Out, OpenMedia, Wikimedia UK, and many others. You can read the letter on the Mozilla Foundation website.