As part of its ongoing efforts to provide more transparency around political advertising, Facebook is this week launching a new, weekly Ad Archive report, which will highlight the top spending US political groups, and the specific ads they're using to reach voters.
As explained by Facebook:
"The report will help you 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. It will also provide the Page name; “Paid for by” disclaimer; total number of ads from a particular advertiser; and a link to those ads in the archive. The report is updated weekly and can be accessed through the home page of the Archive."
Certainly, there are some interesting insights in the new report - to access it, you first need to go to Facebook's Ad Archive, which can be searched by both Facebook and non-Facebook users.
Once you're there, you can either search direct through the archive for specific ads/topics/advertisers, or you can go to the Ad Archive Report, where you can get weekly updates and insights like this:
It's a little hard to read in that smaller image size, but the listing includes the top advertisers for the week, the 'disclaimer' (i.e. who paid for the ads), total ad spend and the number of ads from that advertiser currently in the archive (side note - President Trump certainly runs a lot of Facebook ads, with the 'Trump Make America Great Again Committee' and 'Donald J. Trump for President' groups having over 105k ads in the archive right now, well more than any other group).
If you click on any advertiser in the listing, you can see more specific information about that advertiser and/or campaign, including the specific ads being used.
Note the country filter on the left side - Facebook's currently only running its political ads archive for US groups, but it is looking to expand it globally in future.
The report offers some great insight into political ads and politically motivated groups, and may help not only provide more insight into how activist groups are using Facebook, but it could also limit the spread of misleading news by providing more oversight into which posts are actually ads and who's paying for them.
As noted, the report is part of Facebook's ongoing election integrity efforts, which took life after The Social Network was sparked into action in the wash-up from the 2016 US Presidential Election.
And definitely there's a lot of value to providing such insight - as Facebook notes, traditionally, political ads have required a disclaimer at the end, an 'authorized' or 'approved by' message which highlights the connection. Facebook hasn't required the same till now, and the increased perspective could go a long way towards lessening the impact of manipulative content on the platform.