Ad transparency tools will help users have a check over political ads in India

Date Published: April 13, 2019 Last Updated: April 13, 2019

With the season of Lok Sabha elections gaining momentum, political parties are going all out in their quest to persuade every possible voter. Online promotions are extensively used to shape public opinion across these platforms. Social media platforms are trying their best prevent misuse and keep the spurt of partisan content in check by keeping ad transparency tools which would keep the political candidate's expenditures online. Facebook's ad transparency tool will allow you to read the Ad

  • A number of ad transparency tools are used as preventive measures by the social media platforms to check the background of advertisements over such platforms. These apps let anyone browse a service’s ad library and look into a host of statistics such as who has distributed the most number of ads, how much a particular account has spent, where they have spent, how wide their reach is, and much more.

  • Facebook's ad transparency tool allows you to read the Ad Library Report which reveals the top spenders, search for specific keywords or pages, view precise expenditure details, and browse through all the political ads since February 2019. You can also inspect the breakdown of a particular ad, how many impressions it garnered and its gender as well as geographic analysis.

  • Google’s tool, on the other hand, sorts its data by advertisers or candidates instead of letting you look up, for instance, a candidate’s YouTube channel. Google also has a section which displays every political advertisement hosted on its platforms.

  • Twitter’s tool, however, is falling short in its measures as compared to Facebook and Google's ad transaprency tools. Its biggest shortcoming is that you can only access up to a week’s worth of data, unlike Facebook and Google’s months of archival data. Despite being a social network, you also can’t search for keywords. In addition, there are no listings for the most active advertisers, nor will you find geographic breakdowns. One can only view the authorized accounts, their promoted tweets, impressions, and how much they have spent.

  • WhatsApp in India launched a feature called 'Checkpoint Tipline', where people can check the authenticity of information received by them. The tipline which will help create database of fake news and rumours. However, the initiative is aimed more towards research than busting myths, which makes it pointless at this stage of general elections.