Meta opens up political ad data to vetted researchers

Advertiser targeting choices for political, electoral, and social issues will soon be made available to academic researchers through Meta’s FORT environment.

FORT, short for Facebook Open Research and Transparency, is an environment dedicated to sharing privacy-protected data with independent researchers so they can study Meta’s impact on society.

“By making advertiser targeting criteria available for analysis and reporting on ads run about social issues, elections and politics, we hope to help people better understand the practices used to reach potential voters on our technologies,” Meta said.

Last year, Meta (Facebook’s parent company,) opened up access to targeting information for more than 1.65 million social issue, electoral, and political ads leading up to the 2020 US election.

Data is now available for ads run globally since August 2020.

Coming in July, Meta’s publicly available Ad Library will also include a summary of targeting information for ads run after launch.

“This update will include data on the total number of social issue, electoral and political ads a Page ran using each type of targeting (such as location, demographics and interests) and the percentage of social issue, electoral and political ad spend used to target those options,” Meta said.

It also included details on whether a Page used Custom Audiences and/or lookalike audiences.

“For example, the Ad Library could show that over the last 30 days, a Page ran 2,000 ads about social issues, elections or politics, and that 40% of their spend on these ads was targeted to “people who live in Pennsylvania” or “people who are interested in politics.” Meta said.

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