Facebook begins ad transparency test in Canada

Canadians are the first to test the feature, which includes seeing the ads being run by Facebook pages.

Canadians are the first to test new Facebook ad safety features that allow them to see all the ads a page is running on the platform.

An  “Ads” tab is now visible on all pages running ads on Facebook, Instagram and Audience Network (which delivers video ads on apps and sites beyond the Facebook platform.) Users are able to see all ads a page is running, even those that are not targeted at them.

During the initial test, Facebook will not be tracking clicks or impressions, meaning advertisers’ reporting and billing will not be affected. Moreover, the test does not include providing targeting information or details regarding which platform the ads are running on.

The feature, which was set to launch by late Tuesday, will be rolled out in the U.S. and other markets starting next summer.

In an email to MiC, a Facebook representative said conducting the test in Canada aligns with the work the social network is already doing through the Canadian Election Integrity Initiative.

The initiative includes the launch of a two-year partnership with the non-profit MediaSmarts to promote digital and news literacy, the release of a guide for politicians and political parties on keeping their Facebook accounts secure, and the creation of an emergency Canadian Facebook Cyber Threats Crisis email line, aimed at preventing hacks and cyber-interference.

When it first announced the changes a few weeks ago, the company said it plans to create an archive of federal election ads dating back four years and to provide details on the total advertising amounts spent, the number of impressions delivered and the demographics of the audiences reached, once the feature is rolled out in the U.S.

The changes are part of a broader effort by Facebook to create greater transparency on its platform, following disclosures that it may have been used by Russian actors to influence the outcome of the U.S. presidential election last year.

At a congressional hearing in September, the company revealed that it sold up to $100,000 in political ads to a group with ties to Russian state propaganda. Facebook founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg has said the company hopes to have fully implemented the changes in the U.S. ahead of the 2018 midterm elections in November.

Copy appearing in the Ads tab says “We’re making these ads available to you, even if you aren’t part of the intended audience, in order to give you more information about how this Page is using Facebook ads. We aren’t able to show certain kinds of ads, such as some dynamic and offer ads, at this time. You’ll see the Facebook News Feed versions of any ads. Advertisers may run ads across different products, sites and apps (such as Instagram or Messenger), so they may look different here to how they appear there.”