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Facebook Image Credit: Reuters

Critics have often blamed Facebook for their lack of election transparency measures. To address this, Facebook Inc will now affix labels to political ads shared by users on their feeds, the social media giant said on Tuesday.

The US presidential election is less than five months away, which means political activity on Facebook is about to go into overdrive. Yes, much of that activity will be from people shouting their political opinions into the digital void, but another large chunk of that activity will come from an explosion of political ads on Facebook and its sister app, Instagram.

Facebook has announced it is letting US users turn off political ads so none show in their feeds on Facebook and Instagram. As the company announced in a blog post:

“Starting today for some people and rolling out to everyone in the US over the next few weeks, people will be able to turn off all social issue, electoral or political ads from candidates, Super PACs or other organizations that have the “Paid for by” political disclaimer on them.”

While Facebook has attached a ‘paid for by’ disclaimer to political ads since 2018, after facing a backlash for failing to stop Russia from using its platforms to influence the 2016 US presidential election, the label used to disappear once people shared the ads to their feeds. Critics had said that this undermined its utility and allowed misinformation to continue spreading unchecked.

Facebook users seem to be supporting Facebook's new resolution. One such user, John Payne said: “Such great news, and I hope that’s a worldwide feature. There should be a feature to turn off political ads forever.”

According to an article by news agency Reuters: “Facebook introduced a similar labeling approach for state news media earlier this month, but that label also sometimes drops off with sharing and does not appear when users post their links to those outlets.”

Reportedly, Democratic nominee Joe Biden last week called on Zuckerberg to reverse his decision to exempt political ads from fact-checking.