Facebook released Ad Archive today, an ad transparency tool designed to allow anyone from journalists to watchdogs and Facebook users to access detailed information about politically related ad campaigns and the advertisers funding them.
According to Facebook, the Ad Archive tool makes it possible to find extra info about particular ads, as well as the entities funding them.
Furthermore, with the help of the Ad Archive web app, users can find ads they had never seen before because they were displayed to other audiences.
The ads that can be tracked using the Ad Archive are related to public office candidates, elected officials, and to issues of national importance, with all ad information since May 7 being available for search.
Facebook also unveiled the Ad Archive Report, a weekly summary of the archive and a tool which enables you to "more easily find information such as the total number of ads and spend in the archive; searchable tables to find exact spend by advertiser; as well as top keywords searched."
Facebook's new advertising transparency tools make it possible for the public to get some extra insights into the entities behind political ad campaigns
As Facebook states, the Ad Archive Report will be updated on a weekly basis with the freshest information about all politically related ads for fast and quick querying via a table-like interface.
The two tools work as expected because according to Facebook's rules "When an advertiser categorizes their ad as being related to politics or issues of national importance, they are required to disclose who paid for the ad."
Therefore, all advertisement campaigns related to politics are automatically added to the Ad Archive database and, eventually, within the Ad Archive Report.
Facebook also provides an API for interested parties who want to take a deeper dive within the political advertising data set, API that will be publicly available after an initial testing period when with a few groups of academics, and a limited set of publishers and researchers will be able to use it.