Facebook and Google Helped Anti-Refugee Campaign in Swing States

www.bloomberg.com

This article looks at how Facebook and Google work with advertisers — even far-right advertisers — to help them maximize their reach. (I explored a related topic subject last week.) I don't see a scandal here — advertising platforms are built to host the maximum number of ads possible — but the optics of this aren't great:

Facebook’s collaboration with Secure America Now went beyond optimizing its ad reach, and included efforts to test new technology. In one instance, Facebook used the Secure America Now campaign to try out a vertical video format, which the Facebook reps were eager to see used on a large scale.
Working with Harris Media, Facebook devised a case study last year to compare the popularity of the new format to others. The video they used was “Are We Safe?”, which contrasts colorful scenes of Main Street America with black-and-white pictures of Muslims who have carried out attacks in the U.S. Facebook tested 12 different versions of the video. It then followed up with a survey of users who had viewed the video to see which format was most popular. (Square videos, it turned out.)

If nothing else, this story shows the downsides of being one half of an advertising duopoly — it increases the scrutiny of your policy decisions.

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