Facebook has made a major change to how it handles political ads, giving users the ability to hide them for the first time ever.
Facebook has been under ongoing scrutiny and criticism for how it handles political ads. Critics across the political spectrum have accused Facebook of not doing enough to combat misinformation. The company has so far resisted attempts to police political ads, exempting them from any kind of fact-checking. This has created an environment where a politician can say virtually anything about a rival, with no consequence.
In an op-ed in USA Today, CEO Mark Zuckerberg defended the company’s stance, saying “accountability only works if we can see what those seeking our votes are saying, even if we viscerally dislike what they say.”
At the same time, for those who want to log on to Facebook to catch up with friends, see what the family is up to and watch a cute cat video or two, all without the stress of being bombarded by political ads, Facebook’s new feature will be a welcome one.
“Starting today for some people and rolling out to everyone in the US over the next few weeks, people will be able to turn off all social issue, electoral or political ads from candidates, Super PACs or other organizations that have the ‘Paid for by’ political disclaimer on them,” reads a company blog post. “You can do this on Facebook or Instagram directly from any political or social issue ad or through each platform’s ad settings. However, we know our system isn’t perfect. So if you’ve selected this preference and still see an ad that you think is political, please click the upper right corner of the ad and report it to us.”
It’s probably a safe bet this feature will be one of the most used options Facebook has ever rolled out.