Published: 26th January 2021
In a first, Facebook to let researchers access election ad data from February 1
Facebook will let researchers access the targeting information for more than 1.3 million social issues, electoral and political ads through the Facebook Open Research and Transparency platform
Facebook will let researchers access, for the first time, the targeting information for more than 1.3 million social issue, electoral and political ads through the Facebook Open Research and Transparency (FORT) platform from February 1. This data package includes ads that ran during the three-month period prior to the US Election Day, from August 3 to November 3, 2020. "We created this tool to enable academic researchers to study the impact of Facebook's products on elections, and included measures to protect people's privacy and keep the platform secure," the social network said in a statement on Monday.
Understanding how advertisers choose to target audiences is key to learning more about the impact of digital ads on specific events like elections. "By making the targeting criteria, such as location and interests, selected by advertisers running social issue, electoral or political ads available for analysis and reporting, we hope to help people better understand the practices used to reach potential voters on Facebook," the company said. Also on February 1, the 'US 2020 Election Spend Tracker' data currently available in the Ad Library will be moved to the Elections page, where the information will remain available for download.
This offers researchers, academics and others a look into how much presidential, senate and house candidates spent on ads during 2020, Facebook noted. People who visit the Ad Library will continue to be able to compare aggregate ad spend for any set of pages, including those representing future candidates or current elected officials, running social issue, electoral or political ads. "Visualisations of spend comparisons will be available for set date ranges including: last day, last 7 days, last 30 days and last 90 days," Facebook said.