MapLight’s Guide to Political Ad Transparency on Facebook, Twitter, and Google

Margaret Sessa-Hawkins and Hamsini Sridharan | May 08, 2019

Last year, in the wake of concerns about deceptive digital advertising in recent elections, Facebook, Twitter, and Google implemented measures meant to increase transparency for political advertising on their platforms. While each platform’s efforts differed slightly, the principles were largely the same: implementing verification systems to block foreign or deceptive advertising, as well as creating searchable databases of political ads that users can explore to see who is influencing them online.

With campaigning for the 2020 elections already underway, these tools present an opportunity to learn more about digital political advertising than ever before.

However, there are still many questions surrounding these new measures. Do the platforms’ verification systems really stop deceptive advertising? How much information can you actually get from the ad archives? To shed light on some of these issues, MapLight has created a guide to social media platforms’ political ad disclosure systems. In the guide, we explore the various social media political advertising databases active in the United States and consider what improvements are needed to ensure meaningful transparency to the public.

Click here to see our guide to political ad transparency on Facebook, Twitter, and Google.