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Facebook says it’s ‘not deaf’ to criticism. But it will still let politicians lie in ads

Facebook said Thursday that it was “not deaf” to criticism of its policy allowing politicians to spread lies on its platform. But it will not change its rules.

The company faced widespread criticism, including from some of its own employees, last year for failing to fact-check ads from politicians — a policy Democrats say will help reelect President Donald Trump.

In a blog post, Rob Leathern, who oversees Facebook’s political ad library, said the company was not making any major revisions to its policies on political ads.

Leathern did however ask political leaders to establish new rules that would govern digital political advertising.

“Ultimately, we don’t think decisions about political ads should be made by private companies, which is why we are arguing for regulation that would apply across the industry,” he wrote.

“In the absence of regulation, Facebook and other companies are left to design their own policies,” he added.

Twitter decided in October to ban ads from politicians and Google in November said it would limit how political ads could be targeted.

Google’s decision was blasted by Democrats who said limiting how ads could be targeted would hurt their campaigns. Politicians’ pushback on one ad policy change, while calling for policy reform on fact-checking ads, highlights the tightrope Silicon Valley companies are walking.

Facebook on Thursday announced some new ways for users to see what political ads are running on its platform and some new controls about how they can be targeted with ads.

The company allows campaigns to upload lists of voter information like names and email addresses to its platform. Facebook then finds those voters’ Facebook profiles and allows campaigns to target them with ads. Leathern said users would soon be able to choose how campaigns target them in this way.

Campaigns can also use this function to ensure specific Facebook users don’t see a particular ad — something Leathern says users will also be able to control.

“For example, if a candidate has chosen to exclude you from seeing certain fundraising ads because they don’t think you will donate again, but you still want a chance to see those ads, you can stop yourself from being excluded.

CNN