politics

Survey: Most social media users in three key states have seen ads questioning the election

Don’t target us: Sixty-eight percent of the people opposed being targeted with political ads based on their race, income, political leanings and other demographic information, saying ads should be seen by everyone. Roughly two-thirds of respondents said social media companies should also make it clearer how ads are being targeted and funded.

Behind the study: The British market research company YouGov conducted the survey on behalf of Global Witness, a 27-year-old international advocacy organization that works on issues ranging from climate change to corruption to digital rights. The survey’s margin of error was 2.92 percentage points.

In recent years, Global Witness has called on lawmakers in both the U.S. and Europe to apply greater scrutiny to major technology companies. Notably, the group has urged Congress to pass legislation that would ban the micro-targeting of online political ads and require greater disclosures about who funds them.

Silicon Valley action: Facebook, Google and Twitter have overhauled their political advertising policies after the revelations that online trolls linked to the Kremlin had bought ads to attack Hillary Clinton and stir unrest in the 2016 U.S. presidential election. All three companies have since created publicly accessible databases that list ads and information about them.

The companies have also taken steps to limit political ads before the election.

Twitter has taken the boldest action of all three companies, opting last year to do away with political ads entirely. Google, meanwhile, limited political advertisers to targeting messages based on age, location and gender. Facebook has not imposed similar restrictions, although it began banning the posting of new political ads for an indefinite time starting this week.



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