Over the past year, Facebook’s advertising business has been derided for many reasons. For being used by Russian entities to attempt to sway last year’s US presidential election. For enabling discrimination against minorities, a violation of federal housing law. For offering ways to target ads to self-identified members of hate groups. And then there are the myriad measurements errors the company has disclosed.
After all the light shed on the dark side of Facebook’s ad business, the company is trying to shift the spotlight to the bright side, countering the examples of how its platform can and has been misused with an itemized list of how the company governs its use.
In a company blog post published on Monday, Facebook’s VP of ad products, Rob Goldman, laid out the social network’s advertising principles. “While the world and our services are always evolving, we thought it would be helpful to lay out the principles that guide our decision-making when it comes to advertising across Facebook, Messenger and Instagram,” Goldman wrote.
Facebook’s advertising principles include protecting people’s personal information, being transparent about the ads running across its properties and upholding its community standards with advertisers. There are also inclusions preaching Facebook’s people-first ethos, positioning its platform as empowering smaller businesses and emphasizing that everything is a work in progress.
If all of that sounds familiar, it should. The principles themselves are nothing new for Facebook. The company is simply putting a bow on them. What impact compiling these principles into a single blog post will have is unclear. At the least, it gives Facebook’s executives something to point to the next time they are called before Congress and lambasted for negligently operating a platform that can be used to seemingly any end, including to undermine democracy.