Facebook came under heavy criticism several months ago when it said it will not police political ads for their veracity. In other words, politicians would be free to lie as much as they want in their advertisements with no possible punishment from Facebook. Now the social media giant seems to be doubling down on this controversial policy, saying that the responsibility actually falls on users to choose what kind of ads they see.
This week, Facebook announced a change to its political ad system that emphasizes “transparency.” Sometime this summer, the company said that users will begin to receive a setting that allows them to see “fewer political and social issue ads.” However, this change does nothing to address the root cause of the problem — allowing phony ads in the first place. Meanwhile, lawmakers are blasting the company for prioritizing profit over ethics.
“Make no mistake, this has nothing to do with transparency and choice,” Rep. David Cicilline of the House Antitrust Subcommittee said on Twitter. “This is about money. Specifically, the $6 billion that will be spent on political ads in 2020 that Facebook will use to continue increasing their profits at the expense of our democracy.”
Though it’s often easy to paint Facebook as the bad guy, it’s hard to see how this policy is helpful to anyone outside of the company, which simply wants to wash its hands of deciding what’s true or false. As usual, it falls on the users to make Facebook a better platform for themselves.
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