Facebook and Instagram Offer Users Control Over Political Ad Content on Their Feeds

By Adriaan Brits Wednesday, July 1, 2020

With the presidential elections around the corner, social media giant Facebook has opted for new modifications around the political information found on their social media platforms. The move comes relatively later after alleged allegations have been made against founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg’s direct involvement in political influence.

The new feature which has already been rolled out by the tech giant has now given users the option to choose what type of political information and advertisements they want to see on their social feeds. The modification will offer users the chance to handle political information currently flooding social platforms, additionally acting as a transparent figure in the race to the polls.

A Virtual Way to Communicate With Voters

Modern politics and the current COVID-19 pandemic have seen a move to social channels as a way to communicate with voters on a larger scale. With social restrictions in place and an eerie future considering how voters will be able to cast their votes in the coming months, Facebook managed to use this as an opportunity to give power back to its users.

The new settings which will be featured on both Facebook and Instagram are called the Voting Information Center and will help keep those interested well-informed about certain regulations and voting requirements in their area. After waving political ads, such as social issues, electoral ads, ads from candidates, and “paid for by” content can now offer users a better and more personalized experience.

In the past, social media platforms did not highlight paid content ads as such, but new modifications will indicate the "paid for by" disclosure. The clarity around these ads will give users and voters the option to view or disregard the information. Additionally, the company will also be implementing transparency in account spending. The new ad spending tracker will clearly show the total spends for US House races, Senate races, and also for Presidential candidates.

In 2016 and 2018, the company did manage to help register an estimated 2 million new voters, but their new expansion will see an increase, with estimates of helping around 4 million voters register this year using Facebook, Instagram, and also Facebook Messenger. Their attempt to re-instill trust will only reflect on their ability to safeguard voter information and offer US voters the chance to use their platforms to vote amid the current national situation. Better and regularly updated information will also offer developments considering election stations in desired states and will highlight posts from verified local election authorities.

A very large portion of their efforts will be a joint communication between users, and their desired political agenda. The Voting Information Center will now house all the needed information users will have to equip themselves with before heading to the polls. The company and senior management have passed public scrutiny, as outcries for more regulated policies and measurable metrics to be put in place in efforts to protect public political opinion.

A Push for Accurate Information

The 2016 presidential election soon revealed that Facebook was at the hands of spreading inaccurate information and misinforming users about the political situation of the time. Since then, the company has moved away from being a direct influence in politics, and vowed to become an open platform whereby users, campaigns, businesses and news sites can openly share truthful information to their followers.

In a media release, Zuckerberg exclaimed that their role and stance in the current election will always be a facilitator for accurate information. Their close network of affiliates with certain governmental candidates and parties has offered the social giant an opportunity to act as a liaison for voters.

Newer adaptations such as these will make it possible for voters to be more in the know with their state election officials and local election authorities. In the same breath, provided information details will include info about mail-in ballots, voter registration, and early voting options. As the federal government urges the state government to create tighter and more regulated voting stations amid the global pandemic, many are wary of the outcomes from this year’s election race.

About the Author

Headshot for author Adriaan Brits
As an analyst of global affairs, Adriaan has an MSC from Oxford, with diverse interests in the digital economy, entertainment, and business. He is a specialist trainer in Advanced Analytics & Media.

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