Today, Facebook activated a feature it’s been talking about for a long time: the ability to see who is running what kind of political or issue ads on Facebook at any time.
Here is an excerpt from Facebook’s blog post about the feature:
- Starting today, all election-related and issue ads on Facebook and Instagram in the US must be clearly labeled – including a “Paid for by” disclosure from the advertiser at the top of the ad. This will help ensure that you can see who is paying for the ad – which is especially important when the Page name doesn’t match the name of the company or person funding the ad.
- When you click on the label, you’ll be taken to an archive with more information. For example, the campaign budget associated with an individual ad and how many people saw it – including their age, location and gender.
- That same archive can be reached by anyone in the world at facebook.com/politicalcontentads. People visiting the archive can see and search ads with political or issue content an advertiser has run in the US for up to seven years.
- Advertisers wanting to run ads with political content in the US will need to verify their identity and location.
So, earlier today, I clicked on that link in the second-to-last bullet point, and I started searching all kinds of words: “abortion,” “guns,” “education,” and others.
The tool is fascinating, and I will be coming back to look at it in the future.
The tool allows you to see a lot.
You can see which Facebook page is running an ad.
You can see who is paying for that ad.
You can see how much money was spent on the ad (within a range).
You can see who has seen the ad (by location, gender, and age).
It’s super interesting.
While I was poking around the tool to see who is running what kind of ads and who they are targeting, I came across A LOT of ads from Planned Parenthood.
When searching what ads people are running around the topic of “sex,” Planned Parenthood’s strategy was clear: run ads promoting sex-positive sexual education. Like this one:
So I clicked into some ads like this, and this is what I found:
I also found this ad:
Whatever you think about sex, sexual education, or Planned Parenthood, you should take notice at the audience receiving these ads.
Planned Parenthood is using Facebook ads to tell middle and high school students that “sex is hot.”
This blog post is not primarily about the mission of Planned Parenthood or the messaging of its ads.
This blog post is about Facebook, its ads, and its ad regulations.
Here are Facebook’s own words from its ad policy:
Despite those rules, Facebook’s ad system is somehow permitting an organization whose business model relies on young people being sexually active to deliver content that promotes sexual activity among people under the age of 18.
That’s a problem.
Of course it’s unwise to be ignorant of the fact that people under the age of 18 are having sex. As Christians, we need to be aware of this and be ready to counsel teens who are.
I just don’t think we should be allowed to run ads promoting such activity.
Chris Martin is the Co-Creator and Chief Content Officer at LifeWay Social as well as a Content Strategist at LifeWay. He and his wife Susie live outside Nashville, TN.