Facebook is making good on its pledge to introduce greater transparency to the political ads bought within its walls, releasing the first of its regular 'ad archive' reports which details the biggest political ad spenders in the US.
Since May, the social network has been making it easier for US voters to access data about political campaigns that have ran in the country. This ad archive details which page or group paid for the campaign, how much they spent on it, its reach and other ads the page has stumped up for.
Similar initiatives have been employed by Facebook in Brazil and, more recently, the UK. Now Facebook is curating reports that make that information easier to digest.
It's now revealed that US political ad spend on the social network and sister site Instagram from individual candidates and special interest groups came in at $256m since May alone.
This largesse was used to generate 1.7m ads, pushing messages designed to encourage people to vote in a certain way, or sway opinion in a particular direction.
The first tranche of figures show that Beto O’Rourke, Democratic representative for the state of Texas, spend $5.3m purchasing 6,000 ads over the same time period; the largest spend of any single candidate.
Also among the biggest advertisers were supporters of President Trump via two separate accounts; The Trump Make America Great Again Committee and Donald J. Trump for President. Between them, both accounts lavished $4.8m buying over 100,000 ads.
Going forward Facebook will continue to maintain an archive documenting digital media spending, enabling researchers to easily track spikes in advertising around major elections, although it stops short of providing zip codes and a breakdown of targeting data.
While the sums involved may seem large Facebook’s ad revenue as a whole stands at $50bn a year, dwarfing the political contributions.
In the UK Facebook political ads will now carry a disclaimer amid calls for tighter regulation.