Facebook Inc. (NASDAQ: FB) and Alphabet Inc.'s (NASDAQ: GOOG) (NASDAQ: GOOGL) Google are considering changing policies on political ads, weighing the costs of being in the middle of the debate over truth in political speech against the multibillion-dollar election-year opportunity.
Facebook Policy Chief Nick Clegg told Politico the company is considering changing how the platform uses personal information to target voters. Google is also considering changes, the Wall Street Journal reported, though with few details.
Why It's Important
Currently, Facebook is the dominant player in the online political ad market.
Politico reported Facebook has made about $850 million on political and issue ads since the spring of 2018. But the company has come under intense criticism because it doesn’t discriminate based on content. Critics say ads that are misleading, or demonstrably false, should be regulated, and arguably marred the 2016 presidential election. Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg has been reluctant to regulate the content of the ads, calling them free expression.
The companies also have been criticized for “microtargeting,” or using data collected on users of the platform that allows campaigns to aim ads at specific groups that are more receptive to those ads without the general public ever being able to see them to potentially counter their message.
Clegg told Politico the social media giant is considering "whether users are sufficiently aware of when they’re being exposed to political ads as opposed to organic content," such something posted by a friend.
WSJ reported similar talks are beginning at Google about whether the political ad policy needs changes, but didn’t report any details about what might be changed.