US president Donald Trump is the USA’s single biggest buyer of political ads on Facebook, according to research from New York University.
The study reports that the Trump camp has spent $274,100 with the social network since May alone. The Trump Make America Great Again Committee spent £190,400 on 4,127 ads while the Donald J Trump for President spent $83,700 on 5,396 ads.
The second-biggest spender was American healthcare non-profit Planned Parenthood, which handed over $188,000 to Facebook during the same period. The National Rifle Association paid out $58,000 across just 213 ads.
So far, Trump’s combined set of Q2 ads have been seen by 37 million users.
Facebook launched a searchable archive of US political ads on 24 May. The social network now requires the buyers of US political ads to prove themselves as US citizens or permanent residents, following claims that Russian nationals used the platform to influence the US Presidential Election of 2016.
It also requires all ads with political content to be badged as ‘paid by for’ and disclose who paid for the ad. Facebook believes this will be particularly significant in cases where the page or cause being promoted does not match the name of the buyer.
The company added it is working ‘closely with news partners and are committed to updating the archive to help differentiate between news and non-news content’ in order to tackle fake political news shared around election periods.
Mike Schroepfer, Facebook’s chief technology officer, promised to make political advertising more transparent for UK users in time for England and Northern Ireland’s May 2019 local elections by establishing a badging and authorisation system.
A Facebook spokesperson confirmed the archive system will also be rolled out in Brazil in the near future, however could not confirm if or when it would be arriving in the UK.
They added that Facebook's recent global improvements to ad transparency – including the deployment of 'view active ads' and 'more page information – also aim to prevent election interference.