"We didn't take a broad enough view of our responsibility, and that was a big mistake. And it was my mistake, and I'm sorry. I started Facebook, I run it, and I'm responsible for what happens here."
When Mark Zuckerburg said these words in front of US lawmakers on April 10 regarding Facebook’s role in its scandal with Cambridge Analytica during the 2016 US election, it became apparent changes would be coming to the platform. While some changes have already been implemented and others are due to be rolled out in the very near future, how the platform will be affected in the long-term as a result of the scandal will remain to be seen. As media stewards, it is our job to watch with hawk-eyed scrutiny to see how the changes will affect our clients in both the near-term and long-term of paid media advertising.
In the weeks following Zuckerburg’s testimony on Capitol Hill, changes were already being rolled out in the Facebook Ads Manager. Whether these changes were made in good-faith or to save face from a PR standpoint, Zuckerburg has shown he is serious about addressing Facebook’s mistakes and regaining the trust of its user-base. Just a month after the testimony, Facebook announced new policies for political and issue-related ads on the platform. Paid media advertising in this category will be required to verify their identity and location, and Facebook will clearly label the ad with “Paid for” information.
Stricter Ad Review
Though some might say these changes are too little too late after the 2016 election, Facebook is certainly trying to make up for it with this policy. Already at The Ward Group we have seen ads get rejected due to Facebook’s very broad definition of “political” or “issue-related” messaging. While there can be a relatively simple appeal process to get ads approved, this policy allows Facebook to be extra careful about the content advertisers are spreading with ads.
Transparent Audience Targeting
Another change which took effect July 2nd are new rules for audience targeting. In an effort to increase data transparency on its platform, Facebook will require advertisers to clearly communicate to users where they obtained their info and show proof of legally acquired consent from users before uploading data into Facebook. These new changes come only a few months after Facebook ended Partner Categories, which made it possible to target ads in Ads Manager with data acquired by third-parties like BlueKai or Acxiom. With these new policy updates, consumers will be able to view if their data was collected and sold by a third-party.
We still believe in Facebook as a useful and effective medium to reach your audience. Although the scandal brought more awareness to the collection of user data, a recent Reuters study revealed nearly half of Facebook users said the scandal did not affect their usage of the platform, and less than 1% deleted their account due to the scandal. As long as we continue to use data in good faith and offer transparency in our targeting tactics, the changes in Facebook paid media advertising will not deter achieving goals for our clients.