Facebook has been able to receive billions of dollars in revenue from advertisers each quarter thanks to its powerful custom ad targeting features that allow advertisers to target a wide cross-section of users on the platform.
But following the news that now-defunct data analytics firm Cambridge Analytica improperly obtained the data of up to 87 million Facebook users, people are more skittish than ever about how advertisers are targeting them on the platform. So Facebook is trying to reassure users by introducing more stringent requirements for advertisers.
Starting July 2, when an advertiser uploads a list of email addresses or phone numbers of the audience that they want to target on Facebook, the advertiser will have to say where they got the information from — directly from customers, from a third-party data provider, or from a combination of both. They’ll also have to state that they got consent from people to use their contact information to serve them ads.
Then, if users click on an ad, they will get a notification that looks like this, making it clear what personal contact information a business has on them. There doesn’t appear to be an option for users to report if they believe the company improperly obtained their contact information, however.
These new requirements come as Facebook recently started requiring admins of large pages and advertisers who wish to run political ads to verify their identities and locations.
In the wake of criticism over how Facebook worked in the past with companies like Cambridge Analytica, CEO Mark Zuckerberg and COO Sheryl Sandberg continue to tout ads as being necessary to keep the service free for users. Sandberg reiterated during Facebook’s last earnings call that the company is “proud of the ads model we’ve built’ but also that the company wants users to “feel confident that the ads they’re seeing are authentic,” and promised that Facebook would continuously be building transparency tools to do so.
With more than 80 million small businesses who use Facebook, any new requirements for advertisers are going to be difficult to enforce. But these new requirements don’t appear to request any information from advertisers that would verify that they did indeed get people’s consent to use their information. VentureBeat has reached out to Facebook for more information on how it will enforce these new requirements, and will update this story if we hear back.