Why am I seeing this?! PI asks 7 more companies..

Why am I seeing this?! PI asks 7 more companies..

PI has today written to Google, Instagram, Snapchat, TicTok, Twitter, YouTube, and WhatsApp to ask for more information about their steps to tell people why they are seeing ads. Facebook recently announced expanding the company's ad transparency measures to include more information about why an ad or content appears in a user's newsfeed. While Facebook has a lot more to do, it is important that all technology companies provide advertising transparency.

Recently, we have seen how platforms have been used by political and other actors to disrupt democratic processes. At present, people using these platforms are not able to completely understand why they are targeted with ads. How ads are targeted at users is incredibly complex and can involve targeting parameters and tools provided by platforms or data from advertisers (and their sources). What's especially difficult for most users to understand is how data from disparate sources is linked, and how data can be used to profile them in ways that can be incredibly sensitive.

Because all advertisements have the potential to be political in nature, steps to increase transparency must be applied broadly and uniformly across advertising platforms and networks, and not limited to ads bought by political actors. This opacity to users about not only who is purchasing and targeting ads at them, but also how a platform has targeted an ad at them, is inherently problematic and is only exacerbated in political and democratic contexts.

What we asked

  • What steps do the companies plan to take in relation to expanding transparency of political advertising?
  • What steps do the companies plan to take in relation to expanding transparency of advertising outside of political or political issue advertising?
  • What steps do the companies take to increase transparency around why a user was targeted or shown an ad, whether political, issue-based, or otherwise?
  • Where do the companies transparency efforts currently apply geographically and what is their timeline for global application?
  • How do the companies define political advertising?
  • How can users control how the companies personalise ads?

Stay tuned for updates!