Mozilla, Access Now, Reporters Without Borders, and 30 other organizations have published an open letter to Facebook, asking the social network to provide more transparency around political advertising ahead of the 2019 EU Parliamentary Elections.
Facebook promised European lawmakers and users it would increase the transparency of political advertising on the platform to prevent abuse during the elections. But in the very same breath, they took measures to block access to transparency tools that let users see how they are being targeted.
With the 2019 EU Parliamentary Elections on the horizon, it is vital that Facebook take action to address this problem. So today, Mozilla and 32 other organizations — including Access Now and Reporters Without Borders — are publishing an open letter to Facebook.
“We are writing you today as a group of technologists, human rights defenders, academics, journalists and Facebook users who are deeply concerned about the validity of Facebook’s promises to protect European users from targeted disinformation campaigns during the European Parliamentary elections,” the letter reads.
“Promises and press statements aren’t enough; instead, we’ll be watching for real action over the coming months and will be exploring ways to hold Facebook accountable if that action isn’t sufficient,” the letter continues.
The letter appeared in the Thursday print edition of POLITICO Europe.
The letter urges Facebook to make good on its promise to EU lawmakers. Last year, Facebook signed the EU’s Code of Practice on disinformation and pledged to increase transparency around political advertising. But since then, Facebook has made political advertising more opaque, not more transparent. The company recently blocked access to third-party transparency tools.
Specifically, our open letter urges Facebook to:
- Roll out a functional, open Ad Archive API that enables advanced research and development of tools that analyse political ads served to Facebook users in the EU
- Ensure that all political advertisements are clearly distinguished from other content and are accompanied by key targeting criteria such as sponsor identity and amount spent on the platform in all EU countries
- Cease all harassment of good faith researchers who are building tools to provide greater transparency into the advertising on Facebook’s platform.