Researchers’ audit reveals flaws in Facebook’s identification of political ads

Where the platform enforced its policy, or should have, it was wrong more often than right

  • Globally, Facebook made the wrong decision for 83 percent of those ads that had not been declared as political by their advertisers and and that Facebook or the researchers deemed political.
  • Facebook missed a higher proportion of political ads outside the U.S. The platform had the worst record in Malaysia, where it missed as much as 45 percent of ads from obviously political pages or advertisers. In the U.S., 55 percent of detected political ads were actually overcounts, meaning they did not meet Facebook’s definition for political ads.
  • Facebook allowed more than 70,000 political ads to run after its announcement of the moratorium on political ads around the U.S. 2020 elections.

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Cybersecurity for Democracy (cybersecurityfordemocracy.org) is a research-based effort to expose online threats to our social fabric — and recommend how to counter them. We are part of the Center for Cybersecurity at NYU.

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Cybersecurity for Democracy

Cybersecurity for Democracy is a research-based effort to expose online threats to our social fabric. We are part of the Center for Cybersecurity at NYU.