For years, Facebook has been paid to distribute ads known as “dark posts,” which are only shared with highly targeted users selected by advertisers. When these ads are political or divisive in nature, their secrecy deprives those affected by the ads the opportunity to respond in a timely manner — say, before an election concludes. It also allows outsiders, such as the Russian government, to influence and manipulate U.S. citizens from the shadows.
Facebook has since shared its plan to protect the integrity of future elections and increase transparency and monitoring of its advertising. It’s an aggressive effort, and I am cautiously optimistic about the company’s dedication to addressing the vulnerabilities of its platform. But even if these safeguards are successful, we’re still just beginning to address how social media across all platforms is being used to undermine transparency, accountability and trust in our democracy.
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