Facebook’s new transparency tools – too little too late?

There’s a new feature on Facebook called ‘Page Transparency’.

The tech giant says it has introduced this new feature to increase accountability and transparency of pages.

To access this feature, you must visit the page’s Timeline and then scroll down to the Page Transparency tab below the About section and tap See All.

The information shows when the page was created, primary location of the page, the number of people who manage the page, previous name changes and any page merges.

Visitors to the page can see this explanation: “Facebook is showing more information about Pages and the people who manage them in the Page Transparency section on page, which formerly appeared on the Info and Ads tab, This information is also visible when viewing a Page in the Ad Library.”

All the information that was added to Ad Library will now be available via the Page Transparency section under the Home tab. This saves people the problem of having to click Info and Ads.


Earlier this year, Facebook said in a blog post detailing the updates, “We’re committed to creating a new standard of transparency and authenticity for advertising. By the end of June, we’ll roll out transparency tools for political or issue ads around the world. Shining a brighter light on advertising and pages on Facebook holds us and advertisers more accountable, which is good for people and businesses.”

The improved transparency could allow researchers, journalists and government officials to ensure ads aren’t being misused to spread misinformation or suppress voting.

Users can search political and issue ads by keyword or other ads by Page name.

Facebook has implemented a series of updates to its suite of ad tools designed to improve transparency.

Russian disinformation

This addition to Facebook comes hot on the heels of ongoing debate over the Russian disinformation strategy. It’s claimed the strategy is part of a disinformation strategy to undermine and interfere using social media.

In the U.S., the New York Times recently published an article about Renée DiResta, director of research at New Knowledge, a cybersecurity company that monitors disinformation.

She was asked by the Senate committee asked two research teams, to investigate the full scope of the Russian operation to influence American opinion executed by a company called the Internet Research Agency.

The Senate provided her and her team with data attributed to the agency’s operations given to the Senate by Facebook, Twitter and Alphabet (Google’s parent company), companies whose platforms were manipulated for that purpose.

Their report concluded that Russia was able to masquerade successfully as a collection of American media entities, managing fake personas and developing communities of hundreds of thousands, building influence over a period of years and using it to manipulate and exploit existing political and societal divisions.

She said: “The landscape of disinformation is, frankly, a grim one. Russia has already signalled its intention to continue information operations. Terrorists strategically counter attempts to kick them off popular platforms. Domestic ideologues adopt the manipulative distribution tactics used by foreign propagandists.”

Adding: “With discipline, rigor and broad collaboration, we can meet this challenge, establishing standards, protocols and governance that will defend the integrity of our information.”

The implementation of the Page Transparency tab by Facebook will surely make it easier to keep a track of bone fide companies and those merely masquerading as legitimate companies in order to gather personal data?

Ad preferences

Another development is under Settings, there’s a page in the Ads section where you can view your Ad Preferences.

Most of this is quite choices about how you’ll allow ads and how advertisers target you based on things like what pages you’ve liked. There’s also a list of advertisers “Who use a contact list added to Facebook.”

The social network has also taken the opportunity to update its Ad Preferences to carry more information from businesses which upload a list with a person’s personal data, such as an email address or phone number.

The changes include providing people with the reasoning behind why they are being shown specific ads beyond a simple demographic match or internet history. Now more detailed targeting information will be supplied including the specific interests and categories which led to a match being made.

Users will now be presented with a tab with two sections; one detailing advertisers who uploaded a list with a user’s information and advertised to it and another with a list of businesses who uploaded and shared a list with a user’s information.

The transparency tool will give more information as to why you are seeing a certain ad and how your data has been given away.

Facebook Product Manager Sreethu Thulasi said: “In the past, “Why am I seeing this ad?” highlighted one or two of the most relevant reasons, such as demographic information or that you may have visited a website.

Now, you’ll see more detailed targeting, including the interests or categories that matched you with a specific ad. It will also be clearer where that information came from (e.g. the website you may have visited or Page you may have liked), and we’ll highlight controls you can use to easily adjust your experience.

“It will also be clearer where that information came from (e.g. the website you may have visited or Page you may have liked), and we’ll highlight controls you can use to easily adjust your experience.”

Scroll to Top