Unlike Twitter, Facebook Keeps Running Political Ads -- Would It Hurt Democracy?

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Facebook has no plans to make any significant changes to its highly criticized political advertising policy in the wake of the 2020 presidential elections, the social media giant said in an official statement on Thursday.

In other words, it would not prevent politicians from lying in the ads they buy on Facebook. It would also not limit campaigners' options to target groups of voters with their ads.

However, Facebook announced some smaller tweaks to its political advertising policy following months of public scrutiny in the US and overseas. The social media platform will soon unveil a feature to allow users to see fewer political ads. It will also give more detailed information about the political advertisements the users see.

Rob Leathern, Facebook's director of product management, declined the allegations that the company has been ''deaf" to the barrage of criticism from the democrats in the US.

He pointed out that the firm will continue to work together with regulators and legislators to help protect the elections. 

Leathern also opined that in the absence of regulations, the firms are forced to take their own approach and come up with their own policies. In the case of Facebook, we opted for the freedom of expression, he added.

The voters should be able to hear from those who wish to lead them, Leathern noted, highlighting that everything politicians say on Facebook should be scrutinized and discussed in public.

Leathern's words are not entirely surprising, giving the latest statements from Mark Zuckerberg on the topic. Facebook's founder has repeatedly stated that limiting political ads would be a form of censorship.

Zuckerberg previously emphasized that the platform will let politicians post whatever they prefer, with small exceptions for "harmful content" and "hate speech."

Ellen Weintraub, the chairwoman of the Federal Election Commission, was among the first officials to criticize Facebook's statement, calling it "weak."

In her view, Facebook's micro-targeting would hurt our democracy even more. The tech giant is going back to" drawing boards," Weintraub concluded.

Facebook's decision not to limit micro-targeting could be a piece of good news for presidential hopefuls from both parties, especially for those of them who would prefer to send tailor-made messages based on votes' age, sex, gender or job. For instance, President Donald Trump has openly supported Facebook's ad-targeting policy on numerous occasions. 

The decision not to ban political advertising puts Facebook at odds with competitors Google and Twitter. While Google no longer allows advertisers to micro-target their audience, Twitter banned political ads completely earlier last year.

What do you think? Do you support or oppose Facebook's decision not to ban political advertising?