Call for Brexit Facebook ads to be made public

By agency reporter
July 28, 2018

All Facebook adverts commissioned by the official referendum campaigns should be released publicly, says the Electoral Reform Society [ERS].

The democracy campaigners made the call following the publication of Vote Leave adverts by Facebook, and after a request by the Digital, Culture, Media and Sport committee.

The series of adverts were created by Aggregate IQ and targeted specific Facebook users – but in many it was not clear who had paid for them. The Electoral Reform Society believes voters have a right to know the source of campaign adverts and why they have been targeted.
It is asking for all adverts paid for by the official campaigns during the EU referendum to be now made publicly available. The ERS is also calling for online adverts to have ‘imprints’ in the same way as printed materials stating who has funded them.

Willie Sullivan, Senior Director of theElectoral Reform Society, said: “It’s right that all voters can now see some of the ads run during the EU referendum – but this should be the standard for elections and referendums, and not just on one side.

“Voters have a right to know who is paying for campaign material and why they have been targeted. This is about transparency and a level playing field when it comes to crucial political decisions. The public should know how the debate is being influenced.

“At the moment, so-called dark ads undermine the chances of a balanced national conversation – with thousands of potentially contradictory or misleading messages going out to small groups of voters. A simple solution is to extend the imprint requirements for physical leaflets and letters to electronic material. That’s a practical change ministers could make now.

"As an immediate step to achieving greater transparency, all digital adverts paid for by the official Brexit campaigns should now be released. That should be the first step before updating Britain’s outdated campaign regulations. The online political sphere is a wild west at the moment: let’s fix that. Until the law changes, we need a pause in online spending to ensure voters can have full confidence in our elections.”

* Electoral Reform Society https://www.electoral-reform.org.uk/

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