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Facebook refuses to release political advertising data

Facebook refuses to release political advertising data

Facebook is refusing to release data on political advertising on its platform, saying that the company is obligated to protect the confidentiality of its advertisers.

"Advertisers consider their ad creatives and their ad targeting strategy to be competitively sensitive and confidential," Rob Sherman, Facebook’s deputy chief privacy officer, said in an interview with Reuters.

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"In many cases, they'll ask us, as a condition of running ads on Facebook, not to disclose those details about how they're running campaigns on our service. From our perspective, it's confidential information of these advertisers."

Sherman added that the company would apply the same policies to political advertisers as it does to commercial ones.

"We try to have consistent policies across the board, so that we're imposing similar requirements on everybody."

Political science researchers have been asking the company for information on political advertising, like how it’s targeted, how much money is spent and how many people are engaging with the messages.

According to Reuters, President Trump’s campaign spent $70 million on Facebook digital ads; he has credited the social media site for helping him win the election.

But Sherman says that even if the company was more forthcoming with its data, researchers likely would not have a full picture of digital advertising landscape.

"Even if we were able to be more transparent in this area, it would only be a very small piece of an overall story," Sherman said.