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Facebook unveils new tools to improve ad transparency

Facebook unveils new tools to improve ad transparency
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Facebook will now allow users to see all of the ads bought by any account on the platform, a change that is part of its effort to improve transparency.

The changes announced Thursday would allow users to see what ads an account is running across Facebook even if the user is not actually targeted by any of those advertisements.

Facebook already allows users to see all of the ads run by a political page.

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The company is also expanding those political ad transparency tools to Brazil. Users there will be able to see active and older ads in Facebook's political ad archive

Facebook Chief Operating Officer Sheryl Sandberg told reporters on a video conference that the changes are a result of the company's effort to rethink its approach to ads.

“We underinvested in prevention. We underinvested in proactively policing ecosystem we have built,” she said.

She said that she hoped the new details Facebook would share with users would allow them to find and flag problematic ads and content.

“We want to reduce bad ads, we want to make sure people understand what they’re seeing, who paid for it and the fullness of what they see,” she said.

During the video conference, Sandberg also addressed Facebook’s reasoning for why it labeled some news stories as political ads and vetted news outlets in a similar manner to how it vets political candidates.

Sandberg said that after “internal debate” the company decided in “erring on the side of transparency,” on any content involving politics.

Outlets including ProPublica have noted that Facebook’s political ad tools have caught the work of prominent news outlets while letting other political ads slip through the cracks.