Mozilla hits Google, Facebook for ‘microtargeting’ political ads

Mozilla, creator of the Firefox web browser, on Friday called on Google and Facebook to stop “microtargeting” political advertisements.

“Political speech is critical to democratic discourse, but against the very real circumstances of organized disinformation and organic misinformation today, microtargeting keeps ideas from being debated in the open, and fiction parades as fact,” Ashley Boyd, Mozilla’s advocacy vice president, said in a statement.

“Online platforms can take the important step toward quelling the manipulation by limiting political ads to a scale where they facilitate a public discourse.”

{mosads}Microtargeting, a method which uses consumer data and demographics to narrowly segment audiences, is used by political campaigns to specialize ads for different voting groups.

The practice’s critics include Federal Election Commission Chairwoman Ellen Weintraub, who wrote in a Washington Post op-ed that microtargeting makes it “easy to single out susceptible groups and direct political misinformation to them with little accountability, because the public at large never sees the ad.”

Mozilla’s call follows reports that Facebook has considered restricting politicians’ access to microtargeting. 

The news of a potential shift comes after the social media giant has endured significant pressure for refusing to fact-check political ads.

Google may also be considering changes to its political ad policy, The Wall Street Journal reported Wednesday.

Twitter recently amended its policy to outright ban political advertising. 

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