In addition to the option to turn off ads paid for by political parties, a voting information center is being added to the top of Facebook and Instagram pages for American users. The new hub is designed to ensure Facebook users in the US have up to date information on how their state is handling the election, as well as to help citizens register to vote.
Facebook and Instagram are extremely useful tools when it comes to political parties interacting with, and advertising to, people across the country. With sponsored posts allowing the targeting of specific demographics, it could be the difference between winning a state or losing one. Though Facebook has been in the public eye recently, due to how the organization decided to handle a Tweet posted by President Donald Trump, adding an information center to help the American population register to vote is something that will be seen as a positive by many.
In a Facebook post, the company outlined its goals for the upcoming months and how it intends to reach them. With the use of the new voting information campaign on the site, Facebook hopes to not only give the American population accurate information about voting, but also to help up to four million eligible voters register. The registration goal is fairly substantial, considering it is double the two million voters that Facebook says it helped register in 2016 and 2018. Similar to how Facebook has been providing COVID-19-related information, Facebook hopes that the Voter Information Center will reflect the latest accurate information for each state. Furthermore, as the election enters different phases, the information will change to meet the needs of voters. It is expected that between July and November that over 160 million people in the US will see the information.
After requests from users wanting to see fewer political ads on Facebook and Instagram, a new setting allows those using the application to turn off all “paid for by” social issue, political or electoral ads from candidates, Super PAC’s or other organizations. This can be done either via a political ad directly or in the platform’s ad settings. On Facebook, if a “paid for by” ad appears, click on the confirmed organization button which will create a pop-up menu with more information about the organization that created the ad. Click the bottom button asking to see less about this topic and the site will confirm the request. After providing confirmation, the setting will be saved. To do so through the settings, enter the profile settings and find ad preferences. Once there, click on Hide Ad topics and then on social issues, elections or politics. A pop up will appear again and once clicked, the setting will be saved, hiding the ads.
For Instagram users, the process is very similar to hiding political ads on Facebook. When an ad shows, tap the “paid for by” button under the post. This will redirect to a page with information on who paid for the ad, along with the option to see fewer ads like this. An alternate way to disable them is through the profile settings. Once in the settings tab, tap the ads tab, then ad topic preferences. Check the social issues, elections or politics option and it will begin to show fewer ads about these topics.
As this is a new system being rolled out by Facebook, the company makes the point that some ads may still slip through when these settings are enabled. To aid with this, Facebook has added a reporting feature for users to highlight ads they believe they shouldn’t be seeing. Being able to control what kind of ads are shown is a useful feature, and especially for those Facebook users who don’t want sponsored political messages being delivered directly to them.
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