Meta Platforms Inc, which owns Facebook, announced on Monday that it will expand its public ad database to include additional data on the targeting decisions made by advertisers running political and social-issue advertisements.

Meta said it will put particular targeting information for these individual advertisements in its “Facebook Open Research and Transparency” database, which academic researchers use, as part of an expansion of a program that began last year.

“Instead of analyzing how an ad was delivered by Facebook, it’s actually going and looking at an advertising strategy for what they were attempting to achieve,” said Meta’s vice president of business integrity, Jeff King, over the phone.

In recent years, the social media juggernaut has been pressured to boost openness about targeted advertising on its platforms, especially during election seasons. Despite criticism from academics for shortcomings and a lack of particular targeting data, it offered a public ad library in 2018.

According to Meta, the ad library will soon feature a summary of targeting information for social issues, electoral, and political advertising placed by a page.

“For example, the Ad Library may reveal that a Page ran 2,000 advertisements regarding social problems, elections, or politics in the previous 30 days and that 40% of their expenditure on these ads was targeted to ‘those who reside in Pennsylvania’ or ‘people who are interested in politics,'” Meta wrote in a blog post.

According to Meta, the new information in the ad library will be added in July. According to the firm, the data for verified researchers will be available by the end of May, with information dating back to August 2020.

As part of its transparency initiatives, the company has created a variety of programs in collaboration with independent academics. It confirmed last year that erroneous data was provided to academics as part of its “Social Science One” initiative due to a technological problem.

In 2021, the company terminated the accounts of a group of New York University academics who were analyzing political advertising on its platform due to user privacy concerns.


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